Oxy- and Phytosterols as Biomarkers: Current Status and Future Perspectives

Vesa M. Olkkonen, Helena Gylling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Oxysterols and phytosterols are sterol compounds present at markedly low levels in tissues and serum of healthy individuals. A wealth of evidence suggests that they could be employed as biomarkers for human diseases or for cholesterol absorption. An increasing number of reports suggest circulating or tissue oxysterols as putative biomarkers for cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases or cancers. Thus far most of the studies have been carried out on small study populations. To achieve routine biomarker use, large prospective cohort studies are absolutely required. This, again, would necessitate thorough standardization of the oxysterol analytical methodology across the different laboratories, which now employ different technologies resulting in inconsistencies in the measured oxysterol levels. Routine use of oxysterol biomarkers would also necessitate the development of a new targeted analytical methodology suitable for high-throughput platforms. The most important use of phytosterols as biomarkers involves their use as markers for cholesterol absorption. For this to be achieved, (1) their quantitative analyses should be available in routine lipid laboratories, (2) it should be generally acknowledgment that the profile of cholesterol metabolism can reveal the risk of the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD), and (3) screening of the profile of cholesterol metabolism should be included in the ASCVD risk surveys. This should be done e.g. in families with a history of early onset or frequent ASCVD and in young adults aged 18–20 years, to exclude the presence of high cholesterol absorption. Individuals in high cholesterol absorption families need preventive measures from young adulthood to inhibit the possible development and progression of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImplication of Oxysterols and Phytosterols in Aging and Human Diseases
EditorsGérard Lizard
Number of pages23
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-43882-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-43883-7
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Fields of Science

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cholesterol absorption
  • Neurologic disease
  • Oxysterol
  • Phytosterol
  • 3122 Cancers

Cite this