Background/Aims: Psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid is a nonabsorbable soluble fiber that lowers plasma cholesterol levels in several species, including humans. However, its mechanism of action has not been fully elucidated. Therefore, using a hamster model, experiments were performed to determine whether psyllium given alone or in combination with a submaximal dose of cholestyramine blocks intestinal cholesterol absorption. Methods: The efficiency of cholesterol absorption and concentrations of plasma and hepatic total cholesterol were measured in male hamsters fed a cholesterol-enriched chow diet (0.1%) that contained either avicel (cellulose) (7.5%), surfomer (3%), cholestyramine (1% or 3%), or psyllium (7.5%) as single agents or a fixed level of cholestyramine (1%) combined with variable levels of psyllium (2%, 4%, 6%, or 8%). Results: Psyllium, cholestyramine, and surfomer, when given alone, markedly lowered plasma and hepatic cholesterol concentrations. Surfomer, and cholestyramine at the higher dose (3%), blocked cholesterol absorption by 54% and 75%, respectively, whereas psyllium had no effect. Combining psyllium with a submaximal dose of cholestyramine augmented the cholesterol-lowering action of the resin without effecting any marked change in the level of cholesterol absorption, except at the highest dose used. Conclusions: Psyllium, given either as a single agent or as an adjunct to treatment with cholestyramine, exerts a significant hypocholesterolemic effect by enhancing net negative sterol balance across the liver.
ASJC Scopus subject areas