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Atherosclerosis. 2011 Nov;219(1):124-33. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Effect of phytosterols and their oxidation products on lipoprotein profiles and vascular function in hamster fed a high cholesterol diet.

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Food & Nutritional Sciences Programme, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, China.


Human diets contain phytosterols and their oxidation products. We investigated effect of β-sitosterol (Si), stigmasterol (St), β-sitosterol oxidation products (SiOP) and stigmasterol oxidation products (StOP) on plasma total cholesterol and their interaction with the gene expression of enzymes, proteins and transporters involved in cholesterol absorption and metabolism. Sixty male hamsters were fed the control diet or one of four experimental diets containing 0.1% Si, 0.1% SiOP, 0.1% St and 0.1% StOP, respectively, for six weeks. SiOP and StOP groups had the relative liver weights greater than their corresponding non-oxidized forms, indicating they were possibly toxic. Results showed both Si and St groups reduced while SiOP and StOP hamsters lost the capacity of lowering plasma total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and triacylglycerols (TG) compared with the control group. Si and St but not SiOP and StOP were anti-atherosclerotic. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated Si and St but not SiOP and StOP down-regulated mRNA levels of intestinal acyl CoA: cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT2) and microsomal triglyceride protein (MTP). Aortas from Si and St hamsters relaxed better than those from the control and their corresponding SiOP and StOP-treated hamsters. It was concluded that Si and St not SiOP and StOP were beneficial in improving lipoprotein profile and aortic function.

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