Background/objectives: Plant sterol (PS) consumption lowers serum cholesterol levels, while modestly increasing plasma PS concentrations. Plasma PS concentrations may reflect sterol absorption, thus individuals with high plasma plant sterol (HPS) concentrations may show greater changes in circulating cholesterol and PS than individuals with low plasma plant sterol (LPS) concentrations. The objective of this study was to examine whether HPS and LPS concentrations are related to subsequent changes in plasma PS, serum lipid and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations, following dietary PS intake in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic men.
Subjects/methods: This single-blinded, randomized, diet-controlled study consisted of two 4-week phases, separated by a 4-week washout, where a diet with a placebo or the 2.0 g per day PS-enriched spread was consumed during the phases.
Results: At baseline, men with HPS possessed higher (P<0.01) mean serum cholesterol concentration, while those with LPS had higher (P<0.05) body mass index. Following PS intake, plasma sum of campesterol plus sitosterol concentrations were elevated from 34.6+/-4.2 to 46.2+/-3.3 micromol l(-1) (mean+/-SE) and 16.5+/-0.9 to 20.8+/-1.2 micromol l(-1) after PS intake in men with HPS and LPS, respectively. Changes in plasma PS concentrations, however, were not different between individuals with either HPS or LPS baseline concentrations. Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were decreased (P<0.0001) by 6.3 and 7.8%, respectively, with PS consumption for all individuals. Changes in lipid parameters were not different between individuals with HPS or LPS baseline concentrations. No changes in CRP were apparent subsequent to PS intervention.
Conclusions: Baseline plasma PS concentrations are not associated or predictive of changes in serum cholesterol or plasma PS concentrations after PS intervention. Thus, individuals with HPS show similar increases in PS concentrations as individuals with LPS following PS supplementation. Plasma PS remained in the range of previously reported concentrations.