Effects of calcium and plant sterols on serum lipids in obese Zucker rats on a low-fat diet

Timo Vaskonen, Eero Mervaala, Ville Sumuvuori, Tuulikki Seppänen-Laakso, Heikki Karppanen

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    80 Citations (Scopus)


    Ca may interfere with fat and cholesterol metabolism through formation of insoluble soaps with fatty and bile acids in the intestine. In the present study, we examined the effects of different dietary Ca levels on the serum lipid profile and cholesterol metabolism in obese Zucker rats fed a low-fat diet. We also tested whether dietary Ca interfered with the lipid-lowering effects of a pine oil-derived plant sterol mixture. Increase in dietary Ca intake from 0·2 to 0·8 %, and further to 2·1 % (w/w) dose-dependently decreased serum total cholesterol (r -0·565, P=0·002, n 27), LDL-cholesterol (r -0·538, P=0·006, n 25), and triacylglycerol (r -0·484, P=0·014, n 25) concentrations, and increased HDL-cholesterol (r 0·478, P=0·016, n 25) and HDL : LDL cholesterol (r 0·672, P<0·001, n 25) in rats fed a 1 % cholesterol diet. Analysis of serum campesterol : cholesterol and sitosterol : cholesterol suggested that Ca dose-dependently increased intestinal cholesterol absorption (r 0·913, P<0·001, n 18), whereas serum desmosterol : cholesterol and lathosterol : cholesterol indicated that Ca dose-dependently increased endogenous cholesterol synthesis (r 0·691, P=0·003, n 18). Therefore, the decrease of serum LDL-cholesterol appeared to be due to Ca-induced increase in the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. The increase in Ca intake did not interfere with the beneficial effects of plant sterols on serum total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol concentrations. The high-Ca diet with plant sterol supplementation further increased the HDL-cholesterol concentration and HDL : LDL cholesterol. The present findings indicate that the beneficial effects of dietary Ca on the serum lipid profile during a low-fat diet are dose-dependent, and resemble those of bile acid sequestrants. Increased dietary Ca did not impede the lipid-lowering effects of natural plant sterols.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-245
    JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2002
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Calcium
    • Cholesterol
    • Plant sterols
    • Zucker rats


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