Age-related changes of cholestanol and lathosterol plasma concentrations: an explorative study

Lipids Health Dis. 2019 Dec 30;18(1):235. doi: 10.1186/s12944-019-1176-3.


Background: Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX) and Lathosterolosis represent two treatable inherited disorders of cholesterol metabolism that are characterized by the accumulation of cholestanol and lathosterol, respectively. The age of the patients suspected of having these disorders is highly variable due to the very different phenotypes. The early diagnosis of these disorders is important because specific therapeutic treatment could prevent the disease progression. The biochemical diagnosis of these defects is generally performed analyzing the sterol profile. Since age-related levels of these sterols are lacking, this study aims to determine a preliminary comparison of plasma levels of cholestanol and lathosterol among Italian unaffected newborns, children and healthy adults.

Methods: The sterols were extracted from 130 plasma samples (24 newborns, 33 children and 73 adults) by a liquid-liquid separation method and quantified by gas chromatography coupled with a flame ionization detector.

Results: Cholesterol, cholestanol and lathosterol levels together with the cholestanol/cholesterol and lathosterol/cholesterol ratios are statistically different among the three groups. Cholesterol levels progressively increased from newborns to children and to adults, whereas cholestanol/cholesterol and cholestanol/lathosterol ratios progressively decreased from newborns to children and to adults. Lathosterol levels were higher in adults than in both newborns and children. In the total population a positive correlation was observed between cholesterol levels and both cholestanol (correlation coefficient = 0.290, p = 0.001) and lathosterol levels (correlation coefficient = 0.353, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Although this study can only be considered an explorative experience due to the low number of analyzed samples, we revealed several differences of plasma cholestanol and lathosterol levels and their ratios to cholesterol levels among newborns, children and adults. These evidences indicate the need of age-related reference values of cholestanol and lathosterol concentrations, including also newborns and children.

Keywords: Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis; Gas chromatography; Lathosterolosis; Plasma sterol profile.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Cholestanol / blood*
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / blood
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / deficiency*
  • Phytosterols / blood
  • Steroid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / blood*
  • Steroid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology
  • Xanthomatosis, Cerebrotendinous / blood*
  • Xanthomatosis, Cerebrotendinous / pathology


  • Phytosterols
  • lathosterol
  • Cholestanol
  • Cholesterol
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors

Supplementary concepts

  • Lathosterolosis