Baseline intestinal absorption and synthesis of cholesterol regulate its response to hypolipidaemic treatments in coronary patients

Atherosclerosis. 2002 Feb;160(2):477-81. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9150(01)00608-6.


Baseline cholesterol metabolism was hypothesized to regulate responses of cholesterol synthesis and absorption, and serum cholesterol lowering to hypolipidaemic treatment. Thus, serum cholesterol and non-cholesterol sterols were measured before and during long-term simvastatin treatment (inhibition of cholesterol synthesis) and subsequent combination of statin with plant stanol ester margarine (inhibition of cholesterol absorption) consumption in subjects with low (n=15) and high (n=15) absorption of cholesterol, defined by respective low and high baseline ratios of serum cholestanol to cholesterol. Cholesterol synthesis (defined by precursors of cholesterol) was markedly reduced by the long-term statin treatment in both groups, but more extensively in the low than high absorption group (P<0.05), yet the respective serum cholesterol reductions were similar. From among the absorption markers, sitosterol and cholestanol ratios were correspondingly increased more in the low than in the high absorption group. Plant stanol ester margarine consumption, combined with chronic statin treatment, further lowered the serum cholesterol level (P<0.001) only in the high absorption group. The sum of cholesterol absorption markers was reduced more (P<0.05) in the high than in the low absorption group, while the non-significant serum cholesterol reduction of the low absorption group was associated with relatively high increase of cholesterol synthesis. Thus, stanol ester margarine combined with chronic simvastatin treatment reduces cholesterol absorption and serum cholesterol more consistently in subjects with high than low baseline absorption of cholesterol. The profile of baseline cholesterol metabolism determines the changes in synthesis and absorption of cholesterol to hypolipidaemic treatments, but affects less differently serum cholesterol level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cholestanol / blood
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Coronary Disease / drug therapy
  • Coronary Disease / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Male
  • Margarine
  • Simvastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Sitosterols / administration & dosage
  • Sterols / blood


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Sitosterols
  • Sterols
  • plant stanol ester
  • Margarine
  • Cholestanol
  • Cholesterol
  • Simvastatin