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J Lipid Res. 2006 Dec;47(12):2820-4. Epub 2006 Sep 11.

The lipid-lowering effect of ezetimibe in pure vegetarians.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.


Results of previous studies have shown that ezetimibe (10 mg/day) reduces LDL cholesterol in patients with mild hypercholesterolemia on a normal-cholesterol diet (dietary intake of 200-500 mg/day) by 16-22%. However, the LDL cholesterol-lowering effect of ezetimibe in subjects with an extremely low dietary cholesterol intake (vegetarians) has not been studied. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, two-phase crossover study in 18 healthy pure vegetarians to assess the effect of ezetimibe (10 mg/day) on plasma lipids, cholesterol absorption, and its synthesis. Treatment periods lasted 2 weeks each, with an intervening 2 week washout period. Fractional cholesterol absorption was determined using the continuous dual stable isotope feeding method. Mean dietary cholesterol intake in the pure vegetarians was extremely low and averaged 29.4 +/- 16.8 and 31.4 +/- 14.4 mg/day during the placebo and ezetimibe administration phases, respectively. Fractional cholesterol absorption during the placebo phase was 48.2 +/- 8.2% and was decreased by 58% during ezetimibe treatment to 20.2 +/- 6.2% (P < 0.001). This change in intestinal cholesterol absorption was followed by a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol of 17.3%. In individuals with extremely low dietary cholesterol intake, treatment with ezetimibe (10 mg/day) leads to a significant reduction of cholesterol absorption and a clinically relevant decrease of plasma LDL cholesterol, comparable to that of subjects with a normal dietary cholesterol intake. Thus, the lipid-lowering effect of ezetimibe is mediated mainly through a reduction of the absorption of endogenous (biliary) cholesterol.

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