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Clin Chim Acta. 1988 May 31;174(2):213-24.

Serum plant sterols and lathosterol related to cholesterol absorption in coeliac disease.

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Second Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.


The concentrations of the plant sterols, campesterol and beta-sitosterol in serum, normally correlate with the efficiency of cholesterol absorption, whereas the concentration of lathosterol, a cholesterol precursor sterol, closely parallels changes in cholesterol synthesis. In this study we explored whether the plant sterol concentrations in serum in coeliac disease are determined by cholesterol absorption and whether they alone or with the serum lathosterol concentration, could be used for screening the activity of coeliac disease. In six patients the plant sterol concentrations in serum were significantly lower than in 17 control subjects, the reduction being more marked for campesterol than for beta-sitosterol: the serum lathosterol concentration was significantly higher than in the control subjects. The opposite changes in serum plant sterols and lathosterol were recorded in patients on a gluten-free diet. The plant sterol concentrations in serum (nmol/mg of cholesterol) were positively correlated with each other, and with the percentage absorption of cholesterol and with xylose absorption; they were negatively correlated with faecal fat, but not with faecal plant sterols. Thus, the low plant sterol concentrations in serum in coeliac disease were attributable to their impaired absorption, which in turn was closely associated with the absorption of cholesterol. The serum campesterol concentration clearly distinguished the untreated patients from the controls, whereas the use of serum beta-sitosterol, and the serum ratios of lathosterol/plant sterol resulted in some overlapping with the controls. It is suggested that the plant sterols in serum might be worth of determining when screening patients for coeliac disease and especially when testing their adherence to the gluten-free diet.

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