Metabolism and the Effect of Animal-Derived Oxysterols in the Diet on the Development of Alzheimer's Disease

Ann Nutr Metab. 2022;78(3):125-132. doi: 10.1159/000520514. Epub 2022 May 11.


Background: The rapid worldwide increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's disease is associated with changing nutrition patterns. Recently, some articles have highlighted the link between Alzheimer's disease and dietary cholesterol. It was found that elevated levels of some of its fractions in the brain and circulation affect metabolism.

Summary: Previous studies have considered the relationship between Alzheimer's disease and oxidized cholesterol molecules in the brain. To date, there are limited data available on the relationship between oxidized cholesterol in the brain and Alzheimer's disease. There is a link between a diet high in cholesterol and its oxidized forms, leading to hypercholesterolemia, which is one of significant risk factors of dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Oxidized cholesterol can be absorbed in the small intestine and cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to increased inflammation and endogenous oxidative process. Animal-origin foods are sources of oxidized cholesterol, with cholesterol oxidation beginning already after slaughter and occurring during storage and processing.

Key messages: High-heat food preparation and storage of cooked products in the refrigerator followed by subsequent heating may significantly increase the amount of oxidized cholesterol products. Therefore, a diet low in cholesterol oxidation products and high in plants with antioxidative properties seems to be most preventable and should be implemented as early as possible.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cholesterol; Diet; Metabolism; Oxysterols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease* / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cholesterol
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Oxysterols* / metabolism


  • Oxysterols
  • Cholesterol