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J Lipid Res. 1979 Feb;20(2):162-74.

Effect of diosgenin on lipid metabolism in rats.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether diosgenin suppresses cholesterol absorption in rats, and to examine relevant changes in cholesterol and bile acid metabolism. Diosgenin fed with the diet for 1 week inhibited cholesterol absorption as determined by the serum isotope ratio technique, as well as by measuring in the feces the amount of unabsorbed radioactivity from orally administered [3H]cholesterol. In addition, diosgenin suppressed the serum and liver uptake of radioactivity from co-administered [3H]cholesterol as well as the accumulation of liver cholesterol in the cholesterol-fed rat; diosgenin was substantially more active than cholestyramine or beta-sitosterol. In vitro, diosgenin had no effect on the activity of rat pancreatic esterase. Diosgenin decreased the elevated cholesterol in serum LDL and elevated cholesterol in the HDL fraction of cholesterol-fed rats; diosgenin had no effect on serum cholesterol in normocholesterolemic rats. In contrast to cholestyramine, diosgenin markedly increased neutral sterol excretion without altering bile acid excretion; in vitro, diosgenin had no effect on bile acid binding. Diosgenin treatment increased hepatic and intestinal cholesterol synthesis as well as the activity of hepatic HMG CoA reductase. This was accompanied by increased biliary concentration of cholesterol, but not of bile acids. Diosgenin had no effect on cholesterol synthesis when added to normal rat liver homogenates. It was concluded that diosgenin interferes with the absorption of cholesterol of both exogenous and endogenous origin; such interference is accompanied by derepressed, i.e., increased, rates of hepatic and intestinal cholesterol synthesis. The increased unabsorbed cholesterol together with enhanced secretion of cholesterol into bile resulted in increased excretion of neutral sterols without affecting the biliary and fecal excretion of bile acids.

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