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Modulating Sterol Concentrations in Infant Formula Influences Cholesterol Absorption and Synthesis in the Neonatal Piglet

Department of Food and Human Nutritional Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada
Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 6C5, Canada
Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA
Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA
Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA
Clinical Development, Enzymotec Ltd., Kfar Baruch 23106, Israel
Riddet Institute, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(12), 1848;
Received: 7 November 2018 / Revised: 16 November 2018 / Accepted: 22 November 2018 / Published: 1 December 2018
PDF [838 KB, uploaded 1 December 2018]


Formula-fed infants present higher cholesterol synthesis rates and lower circulating cholesterol during the postnatal feeding period compared to breast-fed infants, though the mechanisms underlying this phenotype are not fully understood. Typical infant formulas contain vegetable-based fats, inherently including phytosterols (PS), which are structurally similar to cholesterol and may interfere with their absorption. A seven-day old piglets model was used to test the inhibitory effects of PS on cholesterol absorption during postnatal feeding. Following feeding for 21 days with milk-based formulas containing PS and cholesterol levels resembling those in formulas or human-milk, apparent cholesterol digestibility was analyzed in ileal digesta, and cholesterol, PS, and cholesterol synthesis markers were analyzed in plasma and liver samples. Ileal cholesterol digestibility content was increased in the piglets fed low PS formulas and the rate of the hepatic cholesterol synthesis, as determined by the lathosterol-to-cholesterol ratios (L:C), was decreased in the piglets fed LP-formulas and corresponded to reduced nuclear expression of SREBP2 relative to those fed HP-formulas. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that PS in formula can inhibit cholesterol absorption and enhance cholesterol synthesis. Whether or not this leads to entrainment of cholesterol synthesis later in life via early programming awaits further research. View Full-Text
Keywords: cholesterol; plant sterols; infant formula; synthesis; absorption cholesterol; plant sterols; infant formula; synthesis; absorption

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Babawale, E.A.; Jones, P.J.; Mercer, K.E.; Lin, H.; Yeruva, L.; Bar Yoseph, F.; Rutherfurd, S.M. Modulating Sterol Concentrations in Infant Formula Influences Cholesterol Absorption and Synthesis in the Neonatal Piglet. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1848.

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