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J Lipid Res. 1991 Sep;32(9):1441-8.

Occurrence of isomeric dehydrocholesterols in human plasma.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Three isomeric dehydrocholesterols were found in plasma from healthy subjects and patients with abnormal production or metabolism of cholesterol. These chemically labile steroids were isolated by a mild liquid-solid extraction procedure using octadecylsilane-bonded silica as sorbent. Sterol-protein interactions were minimized by diluting plasma with aqueous isopropanol. The dehydrocholesterols were identified by high-performance liquid chromatography-ultraviolet spectroscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry as cholesta-5,7-dien-3 beta-ol (7-dehydrocholesterol), 5 alpha-cholesta-6,8(9)-dien-3 beta-ol (isodehydrocholesterol), and tentatively as cholesta-5,8(9)-dien-3 beta-ol. There was a strong positive correlation between plasma levels of the two former compounds, isodehydrocholesterol levels usually being about 1.4 times higher than those of 7-dehydrocholesterol. The median concentration of 7-dehydrocholesterol in plasma from healthy subjects was 52 ng/ml. Similar concentrations were found in colectomized patients (median concentration 47 ng/ml) and patients with extrahepatic cholestasis and alcoholic liver cirrhosis (median concentrations 79 and 67 ng/ml, respectively). Patients with ileal resection or under treatment with cholestyramine had elevated levels (median concentrations 142 and 160 ng/ml, respectively) whereas patients with primary biliary cirrhosis had subnormal levels (median concentration 26 ng/ml). The results are consistent with a positive correlation between levels of the dehydrocholesterols in plasma and the rate of cholesterol synthesis. The sterols were also analyzed in human skin and bile and the results indicate that the liver may be an important source of isodehydrocholesterol.

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