Analysis of sterol composition in serum, liver, adipose tissue, adrenals, and abdominal aorta demonstrated that the contents of plant sterols, campesterol and sitosterol, were evidently higher in WKY and stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive (SHRSP) rats than in Wistar and WKA rats fed a diet containing a 0.5% plant sterol mixture. Lymphatic 24-hour recovery of 3H-sitosterol was about 2-fold higher in the WKY and SHRSP rats than in the WKA rats. Lymphatic absorption of 14C-cholesterol was also higher in WKY and SHRSP rats compared with WKA rats, but the difference was smaller than in the case of sitosterol. The remarkable increase of sitosterol absorption in WKY and SHRSP rats was observed between 9 and 24 hours after the administration. In SHRSP rats, lymphatic absorption of sitosterol between 0 and 3 hours was also higher than those in the other rat strains. Markedly less esterified 3H-sitosterol was detected in lymph than 14C-cholesterol in all strains, and in WKY and SHRSP rats, only a small increase in the esterified forms of sitosterol and cholesterol was observed. Although the incorporation of micellar 3H-sitosterol and 14C-cholesterol into intestinal brush border membranes was higher in SHRSP rats than in WKA rats, no difference was observed between WKY and WKA rats. These observations suggest that the incorporation into the brush border membranes and the esterification of sterols are not the major determinants for the hyperabsorption of sitosterol and cholesterol in SHRSP and WKY rats. Secretion of sitosterol and cholesterol in the bile of rats fed a plant sterol mixture was lower in SHRSP than in WKA rats. These results suggest that WKY and SHRSP strains deposit plant sterols in the body by enhancing the absorption and lowering the excretion of plant sterols. These strains of rats may be suitable models for studying mechanisms of differential absorption of various sterols.
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