Genetic analysis of indicators of cholesterol synthesis and absorption: lathosterol and phytosterols in Dutch twins and their parents

Twin Res. 2003 Aug;6(4):307-14. doi: 10.1375/136905203322296674.


Significant familial aggregation was observed for plasma levels of lathosterol (an indicator of whole-body cholesterol synthesis) and plant sterols campesterol and beta-sitosterol (indicators of cholesterol absorption) in 160 Dutch families consisting of adolescent mono- and dizygotic twin pairs and their parents. For lathosterol a moderate genetic heritability in parents and offspring (29%) was found. In addition, shared environment also contributed significantly (37%) to variation in plasma lathosterol concentrations in twin siblings. However, a model with different genetic heritabilities in the two generations (10% in parents and 68% in offspring) fitted the data almost as well. For plasma plant sterol concentrations high heritabilities were found. For campesterol heritability was 80% and for beta-sitosterol it was 73%, without evidence for differences in heritability between sexes or generations. No influence of common environmental influences shared by family members was seen for either campesterol or beta-sitosterol. Taken together, these results confirm and expand the hypothesis that individual differences in plasma levels of noncholesterol sterols are moderately (lathosterol) to highly (plant sterols) heritable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis*
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Phytosterols / blood*
  • Twins / blood
  • Twins / genetics*


  • Phytosterols
  • lathosterol
  • Cholesterol