Hypolipidemic effect of dietary pea proteins: Impact on genes regulating hepatic lipid metabolism

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 May:54 Suppl 1:S24-30. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900251.


Controversial data on the lipid-lowering effect of dietary pea proteins have been provided and the mechanisms behind this effect are not completely understood. The aim of the study was to evaluate a possible hypolipidemic activity of a pea protein isolate and to determine whether pea proteins could affect the hepatic lipid metabolism through regulation of genes involved in cholesterol and fatty acid homeostasis. Rats were fed Nath's hypercholesterolemic diets for 28 days, the protein sources being casein or a pea protein isolate from Pisum sativum. After 14 and 28 days of dietary treatment, rats fed pea proteins had markedly lower plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels than rats fed casein (p<0.05). Pea protein-fed rats displayed higher hepatic mRNA levels of LDL receptor versus those fed casein (p<0.05). Hepatic mRNA concentration of genes involved in fatty acids synthesis, such as fatty acid synthase and stearoyl-CoA desaturase, was lower in pea protein-fed rats than in rats fed casein (p<0.05). In conclusion, the present study demonstrates a marked cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering activity of pea proteins in rats. Moreover, pea proteins appear to affect cellular lipid homeostasis by upregulating genes involved in hepatic cholesterol uptake and by downregulating fatty acid synthesis genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caseins / pharmacology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases / genetics
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipids / physiology*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / physiology
  • Male
  • Pisum sativum*
  • Plant Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Protein 1 / genetics
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Caseins
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • DNA Primers
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Lipids
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Protein 1
  • Triglycerides
  • RNA
  • Cholesterol
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases