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Metabolism. 2009 Mar;58(3):401-7. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.10.015.

The metabolism of plant sterols is disturbed in postmenopausal women with coronary artery disease.

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Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland.


In postmenopausal coronary artery disease (CAD) women, serum plant sterols are elevated. Thus, we investigated further whether serum plant sterols reflect absolute cholesterol metabolism in CAD as in other populations and whether the ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes, associated with plant sterol metabolism, were related to the risk of CAD. In free-living postmenopausal women with (n = 47) and without (n = 62) CAD, serum noncholesterol sterols including plant sterols were analyzed with gas-liquid chromatography, cholesterol absorption with peroral isotopes, absolute cholesterol synthesis with sterol balance technique, and bile acid synthesis with quantitating fecal bile acids. In CAD women, serum plant sterol ratios to cholesterol were 21% to 26% (P < .05) higher than in controls despite similar cholesterol absorption efficiency. Absolute cholesterol and bile acid synthesis were reduced. Only in controls were serum plant sterols related to cholesterol absorption (eg, sitosterol; in controls: r = 0.533, P < .001; in CAD: r = 0.296, P = not significant). However, even in CAD women, serum lathosterol (relative synthesis marker) and lathosterol-cholestanol (relative synthesis-absorption marker) were related to absolute synthesis and absorption percentage (P range from .05 to <.001) similarly to controls. Frequencies of the common polymorphisms of ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes did not differ between coronary and control women. In conclusion, plant sterol metabolism is disturbed in CAD women; so serum plant sterols only tended to reflect absolute cholesterol absorption. Other relative markers of cholesterol metabolism were related to the absolute ones in both groups. ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes were not associated with the risk of CAD.

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