Comparison of intestinal absorption of cholesterol with different plant sterols in man

Eur J Clin Invest. 1993 Dec;23(12):827-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.1993.tb00737.x.


Intestinal absorption of cholesterol, campesterol, campestanol, stigmasterol and sitosterol were measured in 10 healthy subjects by an intestinal perfusion technique over a 50 cm segment of the upper jejunum using sitostanol as non-absorbable marker. Cholesterol absorption was highest and averaged 33%., whereas the absorption rate of sitosterol averaged 4.2% and of stigmasterol 4.8%. Higher absorption rates were found for campesterol (9.6%). Campestanol, the 5 alpha saturated derivative of campesterol, showed the highest absorption rate (12.5%) of all plant sterols. A positive correlation between the absorption rate of cholesterol and campesterol was established. In addition, there was a negative correlation between the ratio of sitosterol to cholesterol and the mass of cholesterol absorption. These results are in agreement with previous observations in animal studies, namely, that increasing the length of the side-chain of cholesterol decreases the absorbability of the sterol. Surprisingly, campestanol, the 5 alpha saturated derivate of campesterol, was shown to have higher absorbability compared with its unsaturated compound. This finding is in contrast to previous assumptions, that hydrogenisation of the nucleus double bond of a sterol causes a decrease of absorbability, as has been demonstrated for cholesterol/cholestanol and sitosterol/sitostanol.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Cholesterol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Male
  • Perfusion
  • Phytosterols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Sitosterols / pharmacokinetics


  • Phytosterols
  • Sitosterols
  • campesterol
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • Cholesterol