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J Nutr. 2002 Jun;132(6):1194-8.

The seeds from Plantago ovata lower plasma lipids by altering hepatic and bile acid metabolism in guinea pigs.

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Department of Food Science, University of Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora State, Mexico.


Psyllium, the husks from Plantago ovata (PO), is recognized as a potent agent in lowering plasma cholesterol. In this study, we tested the potential hypolipidemic effects of the seeds from PO and the mechanisms associated with the lowering of plasma lipids. Male Hartley guinea pigs (n = 30; 10 per group) were fed either a control diet or diets containing 7.5 or 10 g/100 g PO for 4 wk. Diets were identical in composition except for the fiber source. The control diet contained 10 g/100 g cellulose and 2.5 g/100 g guar gum, whereas the PO diets were adjusted to a total of 12.5 g/100 g fiber with cellulose. Although a dose response was not observed, plasma triglycerides and LDL cholesterol were 34 and 23% lower in the PO groups compared with the control (P < 0.01). Lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) and cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) activities were significantly affected by the PO diets. The control group had 100 and 36% higher LCAT and CETP (P < 0.01) activities, respectively, compared with the PO groups. Hepatic total and free cholesterol concentrations were not affected by PO, but cholesteryl ester concentrations were 50% (P < 0.01) lower in the PO groups compared with the control. The activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol synthesis was up-regulated in the PO groups by 37%. Similarly, the activity of cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase, the regulatory enzyme of cholesterol catabolism to bile acids was 33% higher in the PO groups (P < 0.02). Fecal bile acids were 3 times higher in the PO groups than in the control group. These results suggest that PO exerts its hypolipidemic effect by affecting bile acid absorption and altering hepatic cholesterol metabolism.

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