There may be age-related differences in the plasma levels of cholestanol and lathosterol as well as in their respective ratios to cholesterol levels, according to a study published in Lipids in Health and Disease.

In this study, the plasma samples from 24 newborns (aged <1 year) and 33 children with normal sterol profiles, and those from 73 apparently healthy adult donors were collected. Liquid-liquid separation and gas chromatography coupled with a flame ionization detector were used to extract the sterols from plasma samples.

Cholesterol levels were found to increase with each age group (P <.0001), and cholestanol levels were found to be different among the 3 groups (P =.024), but not in group to group comparisons. Adults had higher levels of lathosterol compared with newborns ad children (P =.028 and P =.002, respectively). The cholestanol to lathosterol ratio was different among the 3 groups (P =.001), and lower in adults compared with children and newborn (P =.001 for both).

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There was a positive correlation between the levels of cholesterol and both cholestanol (Spearman coefficient [sc], 0.290; P =.001) and lathosterol (sc, 0.353; P <.0001). In adults, a correlation was identified between the levels of cholesterol and both cholestanol (sc, 0.465; P <.0001) and lathosterol (sc, 0.336; P =.004). In children, there was a correlation between cholesterol and cholestanol levels (sc, 0.573; P =.0005). 

Study limitations include the small number of samples.

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“[P]lasma levels of cholestanol and lathosterol and their ratios with cholesterol and lathosterol are significantly different among infants, children and adults,” concluded the study authors. “Since the two markers studied are useful for the diagnosis of [cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis] and Lathosterolosis, our results may indicate that the reference intervals should be differentiated for adults and children.”


Gelzo M, Di Taranto MD, Sica C, et al. Age-related changes of cholestanol and lathosterol plasma concentrations: an explorative study [published online December 30, 2019]. Lipids Health Dis. doi: 10.1186/s12944-019-1176-3