Sterol absorption and sterol balance in phytosterolemia evaluated by deuterium-labeled sterols: effect of sitostanol treatment

J Lipid Res. 1995 Aug;36(8):1763-73.


Absorption of dietary cholesterol, campesterol, and sitosterol, cholesterol balance, and fecal excretion of plant sterols were determined in three unrelated patients with phytosterolemia and three healthy volunteers during constant intake of cholesterol and plant sterols using accurate gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques. Each subject received a mixture of [26,26,26,27,27,27-2H6]cholesterol, [6,7,7-2H3]sitostanol, and [6,7,7-2H3]campesterol together with two non-absorbable markers, [5,6,22,23-2H4]sitostanol and chromic oxide. Feces were collected from days 5 to 7 and absorption of different sterols was calculated from the intestinal disappearance of the different sterols relative to [5,6,22,23-2H4]sitostanol and chromic oxide. The results obtained by the two markers were not different and the absorption of cholesterol averaged 53 +/- 4% for the patients (mean +/- SD) and 43 +/- 3% for the volunteers. Campesterol absorption averaged 24 +/- 4% in patients and 16 +/- 3% in healthy volunteers, whereas sitosterol absorption averaged 16 +/- 1% and 5 +/- 1%, respectively. Cholesterol synthesis expressed by body weight varied considerably in the two groups but appeared to be about 5 times lower in patients than in controls. Administration of a high dose of sitostanol (0.5 g t.i.d.) to two patients was followed by a reduction in cholesterol absorption by 24% and 44%, an increase in fecal output of cholesterol and steroids derived from cholesterol and plant steroids, and a marked reduction of serum cholesterol, campesterol, and sitosterol. Under the conditions used, inhibition of cholesterol absorption by sitostanol was not followed by a significant rise in cholesterol synthesis. The time of observation was, however, too short to allow final conclusion on this. The results show that the absolute difference in absorption rate of different sterols between the patients and healthy volunteers was about the same. As a consequence, increasing hydrophobicity causes a relative decrease of absorption rates. Thus, patients with phytosterolemia seem to have a generally increased absorption of sterols rather than a loss of a specific discriminatory mechanism, and oral administration of sitostanol seems to be an interesting new approach for treatment of phytosterolemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Adult
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / analysis
  • Cholesterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / metabolism
  • Deuterium
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / drug therapy*
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytosterols / blood*
  • Sitosterols / metabolism
  • Sitosterols / therapeutic use*
  • Steroids / analysis
  • Sterols / blood


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholesterol, Dietary
  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipoproteins
  • Phytosterols
  • Sitosterols
  • Steroids
  • Sterols
  • campesterol
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • Cholesterol
  • Deuterium
  • stigmastanol