Date of Award

Spring 2011

Project Type


Program or Major

Nutritional Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Samuel C Smith


Genetics is reported to be the primary causative factor for individuals diagnosed with atherosclerosis, in the absence of known risk factors. The development of atherosclerosis in White Carneau (WC) pigeons is of genetic origin, making it an excellent model to study genetic factors.

Representational Difference Analysis (RDA) was used to determine genes differentially upregulated between three ages, at the celiac bifurcation of the aorta in WC pigeons. Genes responsible for spontaneous initiation of atherosclerosis were hypothesized as being differentially expressed at 1 day, while those differentially expressed at 6 weeks and 6 months were related to progression.

Multiple candidate genes were upregulated at 1 day, although they were not definitively assigned to initiation. Genes upregulated at 6 weeks reflected increases in protein synthesis, loss of cellular integrity, and changes in muscle contraction. By 6 months, increases in lipid metabolism and changes in energy metabolism from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis were apparent.