Effects of dietary cholesterol on plasma lipoproteins in Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome

Louise S. Merkens, William E. Connor, Leesa M. Linck, Don S. Lin, Donna P. Flavell, Robert D. Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome is a condition of impaired cholesterol synthesis that is caused by mutations in DHCR7 encoding 7-dehydrocholesterol- Δ7 reductase. Birth defects and mental retardation are characteristic. Deficient plasma and tissue cholesterol and excess cholesterol precursors 7 and 8 dehydrocholesterol (7DHC and 8DHC) contribute to the pathogenesis. Cholesterol is transported to tissues via lipoproteins. We measured the effect of dietary cholesterol (egg yolk) on plasma lipoproteins to evaluate this potential treatment. We used the enzymatic method to measure total sterols in lipoproteins (n = 12) and plasma (n = 16). In addition, we analyzed individual plasma sterols by a gas Chromatographic method. Samples were evaluated after 3 wk of a cholesterol-free diet and after 6-19 mo of dietary cholesterol. We also analyzed the distribution of sterols in lipoproteins and the apolipoprotein E genotype. Dietary cholesterol significantly increased the total sterols in plasma (2.22 ± 0.13 to 3.10 ± 0.22; mean ± SEM; p < 0.002), in LDL (0.98 ± 0.13 to 1.52 ± 0.17 mM), and in HDL (0.72 ± 0.04 to 0.92 ± 0.07). Plasma cholesterol increased (1.78 ± 0.16 to 2.67 ± 0.25 mM; p < 0.007) and plasma 7DHC decreased in 10 children, but the mean decrease was not significant. The distribution of individual sterols in each lipoprotein fraction was similar to the distribution in plasma. The baseline cholesterol and the response to dietary cholesterol was the same in children with 3/3 and 3/4 apolipoprotein E genotypes. Dietary cholesterol increased total sterols in plasma, LDL, and HDL in children with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome. These favorable increases in the lipoproteins are potentially therapeutic for this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-732
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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