Effects of endurance exercise training on markers of cholesterol absorption and synthesis

Physiol Res. 2009;58(4):545-552. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.931515. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


Abnormal cholesterol metabolism, including low intestinal cholesterol absorption and elevated synthesis, is prevalent in diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and the metabolic syndrome. Diet-induced weight loss improves cholesterol absorption in these populations, but it is not known if endurance exercise training also improves cholesterol homeostasis. To examine this, we measured circulating levels of campesterol, sitosterol, and lathosterol in 65 sedentary subjects (average age 59 years; with at least one metabolic syndrome risk factor) before and after 6 months of endurance exercise training. Campesterol and sitosterol are plant sterols that correlate with intestinal cholesterol absorption, while lathosterol is a marker of whole body cholesterol synthesis. Following the intervention, plant sterol levels were increased by 10% (p<0.05), but there was no change in plasma lathosterol. In addition, total and LDL-cholesterol were reduced by 0.16 mmol and 0.10 mmol, respectively (p<0.05), while HDL-C levels increased by 0.09 mmol (p<0.05). Furthermore, the change in plant sterols was positively correlated with the change in VO2max (r=0.310, p=0.004), independent of other metabolic syndrome risk factors. These data indicate that exercise training reduces plasma cholesterol despite increasing cholesterol absorption in subjects with metabolic syndrome risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Weight
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance


  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol