Sources Absorption Function and Metabolism

D J McNamara, Egg Nutrition Center, Washington, DC, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The intestinal absorption of cholesterol, its transport through the vascular system, its utilization for synthesis of steroids and bile acids, and its fecal excretion represent a complex interplay between two metabolic processes: the absorption of exogenous dietary cholesterol and endogenous cholesterol synthesis by body tissues. From the initial mixing of dietary and biliary cholesterol in the small intestine to the excretion of fecal neutral and acid steroids, there are two sources of cholesterol, which combine to determine

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the overall dynamics of whole-body cholesterol metabolism and the ability of the metabolic regulatory processes to maintain tissue cholesterol homeo-stasis as well as a steady-state plasma cholesterol level. It is the balance between dietary cholesterol intake and absorption, endogenous cholesterol synthesis, and fecal steroid excretion that determine overall cholesterol homeostasis in the body (Table 1).

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