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Effect of dietary sphingomyelin on absorption and fractional synthetic rate of cholesterol and serum lipid profile in humans

Vanu R Ramprasath1, Peter JH Jones1*, Donna D Buckley234, Laura A Woollett5 and James E Heubi234

Author Affiliations

1 Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg R3T 2N2, Canada

2 Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology/Hepatology and Nutrition, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA

3 Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA

4 Clinical/Translational Research Center, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA

5 Department of Pathology, Center for Lipid and Atherosclerosis Studies, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45237, USA

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2013, 12:125  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-12-125

Published: 19 August 2013



Diets enriched with sphingolipids may improve blood lipid profiles. Studies in animals have shown reductions in cholesterol absorption and alterations in blood lipids after treatment with sphingomyelin (SM). However, minimal information exists on effect of SM on cholesterol absorption and metabolism in humans. The objective was to assess the effect of SM consumption on serum lipid concentrations and cholesterol metabolism in healthy humans.


Ten healthy adult males and females completed a randomized crossover study. Subjects consumed controlled diets with or without 1 g/day SM for 14 days separated by at least 4 week washout period. Serum lipid profile and markers of cholesterol metabolism including cholesterol absorption and synthesis were analyzed.


Serum triglycerides, total, LDL- and VLDL- cholesterol were not affected while HDL cholesterol concentrations were increased (p = 0.043) by SM diet consumption. No change in cholesterol absorption and cholesterol fractional synthesis rate was observed with supplementation of SM compared to control. Intraluminal cholesterol solubilization was also not affected by consumption of SM enriched diet.


In humans, 1 g/day of dietary SM does not alter the blood lipid profile except for an increased HDL-cholesterol concentration and has no effect on cholesterol absorption, synthesis and intraluminal solubilization compared to control.

Trial registration # NCT00328211

Sphingomyelin; Cholesterol absorption; Fractional synthetic rate; Bile; Human