Sterols in infant formulas: validation of a gas chromatographic method

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Sep;68(6):695-703. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2017.1287883. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


Sterols are components present in the fat fraction of infant formulas (IFs). Their characterization is therefore of interest, though there are no official reference methods for their analysis in these matrices.

Aim: To validate a gas chromatographic method with flame ionization detection for the determination of animal (cholesterol and desmosterol) and plant sterols (brassicasterol, campesterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol and sitostanol) found in IFs. All correlation coefficients obtained for the calibration curves of sterols studied were >0.99. Limits of detection (<1 μg/100 mL) and quantification (<4 μg/100 mL) are suitable for sterols determination in IFs. The within-assay precision ranged from 1.6% to 8.8%, while the between-assay precision was <10% for most of sterols. Accuracy was satisfactory and was calculated by recovery assays (ranging 93-108%). The analytical parameters obtained showed the suitability of the proposed method for the determination of sterols in IFs.

Keywords: Cholesterol; gas chromatography; infant formula; method validation; plant sterols.

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Cholestadienols / analysis
  • Cholesterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Cholesterol / analysis
  • Chromatography, Gas*
  • Desmosterol / analysis
  • Flame Ionization
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Limit of Detection
  • Phytosterols / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sitosterols / analysis
  • Stigmasterol / analysis


  • Cholestadienols
  • Phytosterols
  • Sitosterols
  • brassicasterol
  • Desmosterol
  • campesterol
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • Cholesterol
  • Stigmasterol
  • stigmastanol