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 New antibody analysis accelerates rational vaccine design
09.08.2018 | Scripps Research Institute

nachricht Distrust of power influences choice of medical procedures
01.08.2018 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>