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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2016, Article ID 1937572, 11 pages
Research Article

Dietary Cocoa Powder Improves Hyperlipidemia and Reduces Atherosclerosis in apoE Deficient Mice through the Inhibition of Hepatic Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress

1Research Institute of Atherosclerotic Disease, Xi’an Jiaotong University Cardiovascular Research Center, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710061, China
2Laboratory Animal Center, Xi’an Jiaotong University Health Science Center, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710061, China
3Department of Molecular Pathology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi 409-3898, Japan

Received 6 November 2015; Revised 11 January 2016; Accepted 14 January 2016

Academic Editor: Vinod K. Mishra

Copyright © 2016 Hua Guan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, which have many beneficial effects on human health, including antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. The aim of our study was to investigate whether the intake of cocoa powder has any influence on hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis and examine the underlying molecular mechanisms. We fed apoE knockout mice a Western diet supplemented with either 0.2% (low group) or 2% (high group) cocoa powder for 12 weeks. The groups fed dietary cocoa powder showed a significant reduction in both plasma cholesterol levels and aortic atherosclerosis compared to the control group. Analysis of mRNA profiling of aortic atherosclerotic lesions revealed that the expression of several genes related to apoptosis, lipid metabolism, and inflammation was significantly reduced, while the antiapoptotic gene Bcl2 was significantly increased in the cocoa powder group compared to the control. RT-PCR analysis along with Western blotting revealed that a diet containing cocoa powder inhibited the expression of hepatic endoplasmic reticulum stress. These data suggest that cocoa powder intake improves hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis, and such beneficial effects are possibly mediated through the suppression of hepatic endoplasmic reticulum stress.