The purpose of the present study was to assess the role of the liver in the plasma-cholesterol-lowering effect of soyabean lecithin. Normolipidaemic rats were fed on lecithin-enriched or control diets with the same amount of protein. The lecithin diets contained 200 g/kg high-fat commercial semi-purified soyabean lecithin (230 g/kg total lipids as soyabean phosphatidylcholine) or 200 g/kg high-fat purified soyabean lecithin (930 g/kg total lipids as soyabean phosphatidylcholine). The control diets were a low-fat diet (40 g fat/kg) and a high-fat triacylglycerol-rich diet (200 g fat/kg). The high-fat diets were isoenergetic. The cholesterol-lowering effect of the lecithin-enriched diets was associated with significantly lower levels of plasma total- and HDL-cholesterol and significantly higher levels of bile phosphatidylcholine (PC), bile salts and cholesterol. These findings suggest that the liver plays a major role in the reduction of plasma cholesterol, the increased biliary lipid being provided by both HDL and the hepatic microsomal pools of PC and cholesterol.
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