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Br J Nutr. 2005 Sep;94(3):331-7.

Mechanisms of cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary insoluble fibres: relationships with intestinal and hepatic cholesterol parameters.

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Department of GI/Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3615 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4318, USA.


Fibres with a range of abilities to perturb cholesterol homeostasis were used to investigate how the serum cholesterol-lowering effects of insoluble dietary fibres are related to parameters of intestinal cholesterol absorption and hepatic cholesterol homeostasis in mice. Cholestyramine, chitosan and cellulose were used as examples of fibres with high, intermediate and low bile acid-binding capacities, respectively. The serum cholesterol levels in a control group of mice fed a high fat/high cholesterol (HFHC) diet for 3 weeks increased about 2-fold to 4.3 mm and inclusion of any of these fibres at 7.5 % of the diet prevented this increase from occurring. In addition, the amount of cholesterol accumulated in hepatic stores due to the HFHC diet was reduced by treatment with these fibres. The three kinds of fibres showed similar hypocholesterolaemic activity; however, cholesterol depletion of liver tissue was greatest with cholestyramine. The mechanisms underlying the cholesterol-lowering effect of cholestyramine were (1) decreased cholesterol (food) intake, (2) decreased cholesterol absorption efficiency, and (3) increased faecal bile acid and cholesterol excretion. The latter effects can be attributed to the high bile acid-binding capacity of cholestyramine. In contrast, incorporation of chitosan or cellulose in the diet reduced cholesterol (food) intake, but did not affect either intestinal cholesterol absorption or faecal sterol output. The present study provides strong evidence that above all satiation and satiety effects underlie the cholesterol-lowering properties of insoluble dietary fibres with moderate or low bile acid-binding capabilities.

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