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Circulation. 2004 Mar 2;109(8):966-71. Epub 2004 Feb 9.

Ezetimibe effectively reduces plasma plant sterols in patients with sitosterolemia.

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UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.



Sitosterolemia is a recessively inherited disorder that results from mutations in either ABCG5 or G8 proteins, with hyperabsorption of dietary sterols and decreased hepatic excretion of plant sterols and cholesterol. As a consequence of markedly elevated plasma and tissue sitosterol and campesterol levels, premature atherosclerosis develops.


In this multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, we examined whether treatment with ezetimibe, an inhibitor of cholesterol absorption, reduces plant sterol levels in patients with sitosterolemia. After a 3-week placebo run-in, 37 patients were randomized to receive placebo (n=7) or ezetimibe 10 mg/d (n=30) for 8 weeks. Sitosterol concentrations decreased by 21% (P<0.001) in patients treated with ezetimibe compared with a nonsignificant 4% rise in those on placebo (between-group P<0.001). The reduction in sitosterol from baseline was progressive, with further decline observed at each subsequent biweekly visit. Campesterol also progressively declined, with a mean decrease after 8 weeks of 24% with ezetimibe and a mean increase of 3% with placebo treatment (between-group P<0.001). Reductions in plant sterol concentrations were similar irrespective of whether patients were undergoing concomitant treatment with resin or statin. Reductions in total sterols and apolipoprotein B were also observed. Ezetimibe was well tolerated, with no serious treatment-related adverse events or discontinuations due to adverse events being reported.


Ezetimibe produced significant and progressive reductions in plasma plant sterol concentrations in patients with sitosterolemia, consistent with the hypothesis that ezetimibe inhibits the intestinal absorption of plant sterols as well as cholesterol, leading to reductions in plasma concentrations.

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