Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant sterol pills significantly lower LDL cholesterol

10.03.2006


More help for patients already taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs


This image shows a blood vessel that has become narrowed due to the build-up of cholesterol and other vessel-clogging substances.



A pill containing plant substances called sterols can help lower cholesterol, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers studied patients who already were eating a heart-healthy diet and taking statin drugs to control cholesterol. The addition of plant sterols helped further lower total cholesterol and contributed to a nearly 10 percent reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. Results of the study were published in the American Journal of Cardiology.


The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that those with elevated cholesterol eat foods containing plant sterols as a way to lower cardiovascular risk, but many sterol-containing foods are inconvenient for some patients.

Structurally similar to cholesterol, plant sterols can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut by competing with cholesterol to get absorbed and transported into the body. When consumed in the diet, sterols are known to lower cholesterol levels, but sterols are not readily absorbed in the intestine unless they have been dissolved in something that the intestine can easily absorb. Because sterols are not water-soluble, past strategies have involved dissolving them in fat.

Most sterol-containing foods studied so far have been brands of margarine. Studies have found that a daily intake of one or two tablespoons of sterol-containing margarine could significantly lower LDL cholesterol. Some juices and puddings also contain plant sterols.

"One problem is many of our patients already have lowered their intake of fats and calories and don’t use products like margarine on a regular basis," says Anne Carol Goldberg, M.D., lead author of the new study and associate professor of medicine at Washington University. "In addition, many of these people eat out regularly, and they can’t easily take a particular brand of margarine to a restaurant."

To deliver the sterols in pill form, the plant compounds were combined with a substance called lecithin and compressed into tablets. When mixed with lecithin, the normally insoluble sterols are able to dissolve in water and get absorbed in the intestine.

Goldberg’s team studied 26 patients who were following the American Heart Association Heart Healthy Diet and taking statin drugs to control cholesterol. Over six weeks, half were randomly assigned to take inactive placebo pills while the rest took sterol tablets. All patients ingested four tablets, twice daily with meals, while continuing to take statin drugs.

After treatment, those who took the sterol pills averaged a 9 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 6 percent decline in total cholesterol. And Goldberg’s team found that the higher the LDL before the study began, the greater the drop in the bad cholesterol.

"Those who started with higher LDL got a bigger response, a bigger drop in their LDL, when they added plant sterols to their regimen," Goldberg says.

The plant sterols appear to provide an effective way to lower cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol, according to Goldberg. But she says the sterols probably will work best when given as an additional therapy, and she recommends they be used in combination with diet and/or cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

"This type of treatment would be in addition to dietary changes and other medication," she says. "There probably are some people who have very mild abnormalities in cholesterol who could get by with a sterol supplement alone, but people with higher cholesterol levels will need medication, too. They’ll take plant sterols in addition to other therapies and benefit from the additive effect we observed in this study."

Goldberg says it would be useful to try and replicate these findings in larger studies.

"We used a small sample size, but we still saw a significant effect," she says.

The sterol pills used in the study are not yet commercially available.

Goldberg AC, Ostlund RE, Bateman JH, Schimmoeller L, McPherson TB, Spilburg CA. Effect of plant stanol tablets on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering in patients on statin drugs. American Journal of Cardiology, vol. 97:3, pp. 376-379, Feb. 2006.

This research was supported by Lifeline Technologies and by a Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Washington University School of Medicine’s full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Jim Dryden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Icebreaker' protein opens genome for t cell development, Penn researchers find
21.02.2018 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nachricht Similarities found in cancer initiation in kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas
21.02.2018 | Washington University School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>