Biological Pathway of Cholesterol Discussion

Cholesterol is an essential biochemical in human beings essential for bile and hormone synthesis. However, excess blood cholesterol can cause hypercholesterolemia, triglyceridemia, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Cholesterol accumulation in the human body arises through the dietary intake (300-500 milligrams/day approximately) and de novo liver synthesis (700-900 mg/day approximately). An efficient cholesterol metabolism, elimination, and homeostasis are necessary to maintain a healthy blood lipid profile.

Pathway of cholesterol are given as follows:

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Conversion to bile salts and bile acids- 400 mg/day (approximately).

Steroid hormones synthesis- 50 mg/day (approximately).

Gastrointestinal excretion- 600 mg/day (approximately).

Loss through dead cells (skin)- 100 mg/day (approximately).

The liver maintains cholesterol homeostasis in the following ways:

Catabolization of hepatic cholesterol by hepatocytes to bile acids, bile salts, steroid hormones, and cholesteryl esters.

Bile secretion.

Integration into cell membranes.

Elimination through bile acid.

Soluble Dietary Fiber and Reduction of the Blood Cholesterol Level
Soluble dietary fiber plays a vital role in reducing total plasma cholesterol (TPC) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The biological mechanisms of soluble fibers in cholesterol reduction are given as follows:

Prevention of reabsorption of bile salts and increasing fecal excretion of bile salts

Distributes hepatic cholesterol to synthesize bile acid and bile salt.

Hinders and prevents reabsorption of bile salts by the small intestine.

Soluble fiber aids in excreting an excess of 35-60% hepatic cholesterol through fecal excretion of bile acids and bile salts.

Besides, hepatocytes catabolize cholesterol to replenish the hepatic bile acids back, thereby, depleting the hepatic cholesterol.

In addition, a rise in the LDL cholesterol-surface membrane receptors increases the uptake of LDL cholesterol from the blood and lowers the levels of blood cholesterol.

Reduction of glycemic response and insulin production

Highly viscous soluble fibers decrease insulin production by the pancreas and glucose absorption by the intestines.

Insulin is an active part of the 3-hydroxy 3-methyl glutaryl co-enzyme A reductase (HMG-CoAR) enzyme that activates hepatic cholesterol synthesis through endogenous hepatic lipogenesis.

Moreover, viscous soluble fibers such as oats, beta-glucan, guar gum, pectin, and psyllium slow down digestive processes such as the rate of glucose digestion and absorption, and transportation of digestive enzymes. The fibers increase resistance to water for intestinal absorption, thicken intestinal content, and slow down intestinal mobility.

A decrease in glucose absorption, postprandial glucose, and insulin production inhibits HMG-CoAR activation that reduces cholesterol synthesis.

Furthermore, their vicious nature interferes with fat emulsion and micelles formation and reduces cholesterol absorption by the digestive tract.

Bacterial fermentation and release of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)

Soluble fibers cannot be digested or absorbed by the small intestines through digestive processes.

Hence, their metabolic breakdown is through bacterial fermentation in the cecum and colon.

This bacterial fermentation releases short-chain fatty acids like propionate, butyrate, and acetate as products.

Propionates inhibit hepatic cholesterol synthesis and reduce serum cholesterol levels.

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