Plasma noncholesterol sterols: current uses, potential and need for standardization


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewNoncholesterol sterols (NCSs) in plasma encompass endogenous cholesterol precursors and exogenous phytosterols and cholesterol metabolites, which are used as surrogate measures of cholesterol synthesis and cholesterol absorption, respectively. The ratios of cholesterol synthesis to cholesterol absorption surrogates are also utilized to assess the overall balance of cholesterol metabolism, with higher values representing more synthesis and lower values more absorption. The objective of this review is to focus on recent findings using plasma NCSs and their potential in customizing dietary and pharmacological hypolipidemic therapies.Recent findingsNCSs are often used to assess the impact of pharmacological and dietary interventions on cholesterol metabolism. Various forms of dyslipidemia have been characterized using NCSs, and NCSs may be a valuable tool in selecting appropriate treatment therapies. NCSs levels are affected by genetic, dietary and physiological factors and have been related to cardiovascular disease risk.SummaryThe expanded use of plasma NCSs is currently limited by the lack of standardized methodology. However, noncholesterol sterols are still a valuable research tool for the overall assessment of cholesterol metabolism and may have clinical potential in the personalization of diet and medicine.

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