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J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11):3571-6.

Egg sphingomyelin lowers the lymphatic absorption of cholesterol and alpha-tocopherol in rats.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


Evidence indicates that phosphatidylcholine (PC) inhibits the intestinal absorption of cholesterol (CH) in rats. This study was designed to determine whether sphingomyelin (SM), structurally similar to PC, also inhibits the lymphatic absorption of CH. Sprague-Dawley rats with lymph cannulae were infused at 3.0 mL/h for 8 h via a duodenal catheter with a lipid emulsion [33.3 kBq 14C-CH, 20.7 micromol CH, 451.7 micromol triolein, 3.1 micromol alpha-tocopherol (alphaTP), 75.4 nmol retinol and 396.0 micromol sodium taurocholate in 24 mL of PBS (pH, 6.5)], without egg SM (SM0) as control, or with 5.0 micromol/h (SM5) or 10.0 micromol/h (SM10). Egg SM lowered the lymphatic absorption of 14C-CH in a dose dependent manner. Likewise, SM lowered the lymphatic absorptions of alphaTP and fatty acid (oleic acid), whereas it had no effect on retinol absorption. SM at a high dose (SM10) lowered the lymphatic outputs of both PC and SM, whereas there was no such effect at a lower dose (SM5). These results indicate that luminal egg SM has an inhibitory effect on the intestinal absorption of CH and other lipids of relatively high hydrophobicity. Our findings suggest that SM, if ingested in sufficient amounts, may inhibit the intestinal absorption of dietary lipids including cholesterol and alphaTP.

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