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J Nutr Biochem. 2007 Feb;18(2):105-12. Epub 2006 May 18.

Rice bran oil and oryzanol reduce plasma lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations and aortic cholesterol ester accumulation to a greater extent than ferulic acid in hypercholesterolemic hamsters.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences, Center for Health and Disease Research, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA.


Our laboratory has reported that the hypolipidemic effect of rice bran oil (RBO) is not entirely explained by its fatty acid composition. Because RBO has a greater content of the unsaponifiables, which also lower cholesterol compared to most vegetable oils, we wanted to know whether oryzanol or ferulic acid, two major unsaponifiables in RBO, has a greater cholesterol-lowering activity. Forty-eight F(1)B Golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) (BioBreeders, Watertown, MA) were group housed (three per cage) in cages with bedding in an air-conditioned facility maintained on a 12-h light/dark cycle. The hamsters were fed a chow-based hypercholesterolemic diet (HCD) containing 10% coconut oil and 0.1% cholesterol for 2 weeks, at which time they were bled after an overnight fast (16 h) and segregated into 4 groups of 12 with similar plasma cholesterol concentrations. Group 1 (control) continued on the HCD, group 2 was fed the HCD containing 10% RBO in place of coconut oil, group 3 was fed the HCD plus 0.5% ferulic acid and group 4 was fed the HCD plus 0.5% oryzanol for an additional 10 weeks. After 10 weeks on the diets, plasma total cholesterol (TC) and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (very low- and low-density lipoprotein) concentrations were significantly lower in the RBO (-64% and -70%, respectively), the ferulic acid (-22% and -24%, respectively) and the oryzanol (-70% and -77%, respectively) diets compared to control. Plasma TC and non-HDL-C concentrations were also significantly lower in the RBO (-53% and -61%, respectively) and oryzanol (-61% and -70%, respectively) diets compared to the ferulic acid. Compared to control and ferulic acid, plasma HDL-C concentrations were significantly higher in the RBO (10% and 20%, respectively) and oryzanol (13% and 24%, respectively) diets. The ferulic acid diet had significantly lower plasma HDL-C concentrations compared to the control (-9%). The RBO and oryzanol diets were significantly lower for plasma triglyceride concentrations compared to the control (-53% and -65%, respectively) and ferulic acid (-47% and -60%, respectively) diets. Hamsters fed the control and ferulic acid diets had significantly higher plasma vitamin E concentrations compared to the RBO (201% and 161%, respectively) and oryzanol (548% and 462%, respectively) diets; the ferulic acid and oryzanol diets had significantly lower plasma lipid hydroperoxide levels than the control (-57% and -46%, respectively) diet. The oryzanol-fed hamsters excreted significantly more coprostenol and cholesterol in their feces than the ferulic acid (127% and 120%, respectively) diet. The control diet had significantly greater aortic TC and FC accumulation compared to the RBO (115% and 89%, respectively), ferulic acid (48% and 58%, respectively) and the oryzanol (74% and 70%, respectively) diets. However, only the RBO and oryzanol diets had significantly lower aortic cholesterol ester accumulation compared to the control (-73% and -46%, respectively) diet. The present study suggests that at equal dietary levels, oryzanol has a greater effect on lowering plasma non-HDL-C levels and raising plasma HDL-C than ferulic acid, possibly through a greater extent to increase fecal excretion of cholesterol and its metabolites. However, ferulic acid may have a greater antioxidant capacity via its ability to maintain serum vitamin E levels compared to RBO and oryzanol. Thus, both oryzanol and ferulic acid may exert similar antiatherogenic properties, but through different mechanisms.

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