Distribution of free and glycosylated sterols within Cycas micronesica plants

Sci Hortic. 2010 Feb 2;123(4):537. doi: 10.1016/j.scienta.2009.11.009.


Flour derived from Cycas micronesica seeds was once the dominant source of starch for Guam's residents. Cycad consumption has been linked to high incidence of human neurodegenerative diseases. We determined the distribution of the sterols stigmasterol and β-sitosterol and their derived glucosides stigmasterol β-d-glucoside and β-sitosterol β-d-glucoside among various plant parts because they have been identified in cycad flour and have been shown to elicit neurodegenerative outcomes. All four compounds were common in seeds, sporophylls, pollen, leaves, stems, and roots. Roots contained the greatest concentration of both free sterols, and photosynthetic leaflet tissue contained the greatest concentration of both steryl glucosides. Concentration within the three stem tissue categories was low compared to other organs. Reproductive sporophyll tissue contained free sterols similar to seeds, but greater concentration of steryl glucosides than seeds. One of the glucosides was absent from pollen. Concentration in young seeds was higher than old seeds as reported earlier, but concentration did not differ among age categories of leaf, sporophyll, or vascular tissue. The profile differences among the various tissues within these organs may help clarify the physiological role of these compounds.