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Atherosclerosis. 2016 May;248:76-83. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.01.035. Epub 2016 Jan 28.

Effects of phytosterols on markers of inflammation: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

1
Lipid Clinic, Heart Institute (InCor), University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
2
Unilever Research and Development Vlaardingen, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.
3
Lipid Clinic, Heart Institute (InCor), University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address: raul.santos@incor.usp.br.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Regular intake of phytosterols (PS) is proven to dose-dependently lower LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C). Whether PS consumption can also impact low-grade inflammation is unclear. Considering the low feasibility of outcomes studies involving PS consumption, investigation of surrogate markers of atherosclerosis represents a valuable approach. This study assessed the anti-inflammatory effect of PS consumption, according to inflammatory biomarkers, mainly C-reactive protein (CRP).

METHODS AND RESULTS:

A systematic search of Medline, Cab Abstracts, and Food Science & Technology Abstracts was conducted through January 2015. Our study selection included randomized controlled trials (RCT), involving intake of PS-enriched foods as active treatment, and measurement of plasma inflammatory biomarkers. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed using average baseline and end-of-intervention concentrations and control-adjusted absolute changes in CRP and blood lipids. There were 20 eligible RCTs including a total of 1308 subjects. The absolute change of plasma CRP levels with PS consumption was -0.10 mg/L (95%CI -0.26; 0.05), a non-significant change, and heterogeneity had borderline significance (I(2) = 29.1; p-value = 0.073). The absolute reduction of LDL-C was -14.3 mg/dL (95%CI -17.3; -11.3). Meta-regression analyses showed that both the dose and duration of PS intake significantly influenced the absolute changes in plasma CRP (β = -0.35, p = 0.0255 and β = -0.03, p = 0.0209, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

In this meta-analysis, regular intake of PS-enriched foods did not significantly change CRP, whilst LDL-C concentrations were significantly reduced. Further studies with higher PS doses may provide more definite conclusions on a potential anti-inflammatory effect of PS intake.

KEYWORDS:

Atherosclerosis; C-reactive protein; Cholesterol; Inflammation; Phytosterols; Plant sterols; Stanols

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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