Effect of a plant sterol-enriched spread on biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation in hypercholesterolaemic subjects

R. T. Ras*, D. Fuchs, W. P. Koppenol, C. G. Schalkwijk, A. Otten-Hofman, U. Garczarek, A. Greyling, F. Wagner, E. A. Trautwein

*Corresponding author for this work

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Plant sterols (PS) lower LDL-cholesterol, an established risk factor for CHD. Endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation are two important features in the development of atherosclerosis. Whether PS affect biomarkers of endothelial function and low-grade inflammation is not well studied. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of regular intake of PS on biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation. In a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study, which was primarily designed to investigate the effect of PS intake on vascular function (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01803178), 240 hypercholesterolaemic but otherwise healthy men and women consumed a low-fat spread with added PS (3 g/d) or a placebo spread for 12 weeks. Endothelial dysfunction biomarkers (both vascular and intracellular adhesion molecules 1 and soluble endothelial-selectin) and low-grade inflammation biomarkers (C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, IL-6, IL-8, TNF-alpha and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1) were measured using a multi-array detection system based on electrochemiluminescence technology. Biomarkers were combined using z-scores. Differences in changes from baseline between the PS and the placebo groups were assessed. The intake of PS did not significantly change the individual biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation. The z-scores for endothelial dysfunction (-0.02; 95 % CI -0.15, 0.11) and low-grade inflammation (-0.04; 95 % CI -0.16, 0.07) were also not significantly changed after PS intake compared with placebo. In conclusion, biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation were not affected by regular intake of 3 g/d PS for 12 weeks in hypercholesterolaemic men and women.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere44
JournalJournal of Nutritional Science
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2016


  • Plant sterols
  • Low-grade inflammation
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Dietary interventions

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