Plant sterols (PS) are well known to reduce serum levels of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. Lipidomics potentially provides detailed information on a wide range of individual serum lipid metabolites, which may further add to our understanding of the biological effects of PS. In this study, lipidomics analysis was applied to serum samples from a placebo-controlled, parallel human intervention study (n = 97) of 4-week consumption of two PS-enriched, yoghurt drinks differing in fat content (based on 0.1% vs. 1.5% dairy fat). A comprehensive data analysis strategy was developed and implemented to assess and compare effects of two different PS-treatments and placebo treatment. The combination of univariate and multivariate data analysis approaches allowed to show significant effects of PS intake on the serum lipidome, and helped to distinguish them from fat content and non-specific effects. The PS-enriched 0.1% dairy fat yoghurt drink had a stronger impact on the lipidome than the 1.5% dairy fat yoghurt drink, despite similar LDL-cholesterol lowering effects. The PS-enriched 0.1% dairy fat yoghurt drink reduced levels of several sphingomyelins which correlated well with the reduction in LDL-cholesterol and can be explained by co-localization of sphingomyelins and cholesterol on the surface of LDL lipoprotein. Statistically significant reductions in serum levels of two lysophosphatidylcholines (LPC(16:1), LPC(20:1)) and cholesteryl arachidonate may suggest reduced inflammation and atherogenic potential. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11306-011-0384-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
- plant sterols