Sitosterolemia: Opposing effects of cholestyramine and lovastatin on plasma sterol levels in a homozygous girl and her heterozygous father

Margaret M. Cobb, Gerald Salen, G. Stephen Tint, Joshua Greenspan, Lien B. Nguyen

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18 Scopus citations


Sitosterolemia is a genetic disorder characterized by sitosterol accumulation in plasma and clinically accelerated atherosclerosis. Under a condition of metabolic control with a 30% fat, low-sitosterol diet, we compared the effects of monotherapy and dual-drug treatment with lovastatin and cholestyramine on plasma sterol parameters and endogenous cholesterol synthesis in a homozygous sitosterolemic patient with concomitant heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), her obligate heterozygous father, and hyperlipidemic control subjects. We found that for both the sitosterolemic homozygote and heterozygote, cholestyramine plus lovastatin dual therapy proved not to be superior to either drug treatment alone. In the homozygous patient, cholestyramine accounted for the decrease of plasma sterol (ie, lovastatin was ineffective), whereas in the heterozygote, lovastatin represented the margin of difference (ie, low-dose cholestyramine was relatively ineffective). Thus, the best treatment option for this homozygote child and her heterozygote father appears to be monotherapy with cholestyramine and lovastatin, respectively. Stimulation by bile acid malabsorption produced a dramatic decrease of plasma sterols in the homozygote, without increasing endogenous cholesterol synthesis, but this therapy was ineffective in the heterozygote. Decreasing endogenous cholesterol synthesis with lovastatin was effective in the heterozygote, but ineffective in the homozygote. In suspected sitosterolemia, a poor sterol response to lovastatin and a dramatic response to cholestyramine may differentiate homozygous from heterozygous and other familial forms of hyperlipidemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-679
Number of pages7
JournalMetabolism: Clinical and Experimental
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


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