Skip to main content Accessibility help

Comparison of composition and absorption of sugarcane policosanols

  • Christopher P. F. Marinangeli (a1), Amira N. Kassis (a1), Deepak Jain (a1), Naoyuki Ebine (a1), Stephen C. Cunnane (a2) and Peter J. H. Jones (a1) (a3)...

Policosanols (PC) exist as very-long-chain alcohols derived from sugarcane currently used in many countries as a cholesterol-lowering therapy. PC purity and relative percentage composition have been suggested as primary reasons why the original Cuban PC (OPC) supplements possess lipid-lowering efficacy. The purpose of the present study was, first, to compare the relative percentage purity and PC composition of both OPC and alternative sources of PC (APC). A second objective was to feed Syrian hamsters a diet containing 0·275 mg PC/g of either the OPC or an APC product (APC1) and compare subsequent tissue, plasma and faecal PC levels. Five animals from the APC1 dietary group received a diet containing ten times the original amount of PC. Results indicate that the APC formulations have a composition that is highly consistent with the OPC supplement, with octacosanol being present within the cited 60–70 % range. PC were undetectable in the small intestine, liver, adipose or plasma in animals fed either source. Hamsters fed OPC excreted octacosanol (C28) more rapidly (P < 0·05) than hamsters receiving APC1. If the cholesterol-lowering efficacy of PC mixtures is dependent on their purity and composition, then sugarcane-derived APC products should possess similar therapeutic properties as the OPC supplement.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Comparison of composition and absorption of sugarcane policosanols
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Comparison of composition and absorption of sugarcane policosanols
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Comparison of composition and absorption of sugarcane policosanols
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Dr Peter J. H. Jones, fax +1 204 474 7552, peter_
Hide All
Alcocer, L, Fernandez, L, Campos, E & Mas, R (1999) A comparative study of policosanol versus acipimox in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia. Int J Tissue React 21, 8592.
Aneiros, E, Mas, R, Calderon, B, Illnait, J, Fernandez, L, Castano, G & Fernandez, JC (1995) Effect of policosanol in lowering cholesterol levels in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 56, 176181.
Anonymous (2004) Monograph. Policosanol. Altern Med Rev 9, 312317.
Arruzazabala, ML, Carbajal, D, Mas, R, Molina, V, Valdes, S & Laguna, A (1994) Cholesterol-lowering effects of policosanol in rabbits. Biol Res 27, 205208.
Bernard, A & Carlier, H (1991) Absorption and intestinal catabolism of fatty acids in the rat: effect of chain length and unsaturation. Exp Physiol 76, 445455.
Berthold, HK, Unverdorben, S, Degenhardt, R, Bulitta, M & Gouni-Berthold, I (2006) Effect of policosanol on lipid levels among patients with hypercholesterolemia or combined hyperlipidemia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 295, 22622269.
Castano, G, Fernandez, L, Mas, R, Illnait, J, Fernandez, J, Mesa, M, Alvarez, E & Lezcay, M (2002) Comparison of the efficacy, safety and tolerability of original policosanol versus other mixtures of higher aliphatic primary alcohols in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 22, 5566.
Castano, G, Mas, R, Fernandez, J, Fernandez, L, Alvarez, E & Lezcay, M (2000) Efficacy and tolerability of policosanol compared with lovastatin in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia and concomitant coronary risk factors. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 61, 137146.
Castano, G, Mas, R, Fernandez, L, Illnait, J, Gamez, R & Alvarez, E (2001) Effects of policosanol 20 versus 40 mg/day in the treatment of patients with type II hypercholesterolemia: a 6-month double-blind study. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 21, 4357.
Castano, G, Mas, R, Fernandez, L, Illnait, J, Mesa, M, Alvarez, E & Lezcay, M (2003) Comparison of the efficacy and tolerability of policosanol with atorvastatin in elderly patients with type II hypercholesterolaemia. Drugs Aging 20, 153163.
Crespo, N, Illnait, J, Mas, R, Fernandez, L, Fernandez, J & Castano, G (1999) Comparative study of the efficacy and tolerability of policosanol and lovastatin in patients with hypercholesterolemia and noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 19, 117127.
Davis, PJ & Poznansky, MJ (1987) Modulation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase by changes in microsomal cholesterol content or phospholipid composition. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 84, 118121.
Folch, J, Lees, M & Sloane Stanley, GH (1957) A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipides from animal tissues. J Biol Chem 226, 497509.
Gamez, R, Mendoza, S, Mas, R, Noa, M, Arruzazabala, L, Carbajal, D, Castano, G, Goicochea, E, Mesa, M & Mendoza, N (2003) Comparison of the cholesterol-lowering effects and toxicity of D-003 and lovastatin in normocholesterolaemic rabbits. Drugs R D 4, 219229.
Garcia-Pelayo, MC, Garcia-Peregrin, E & Martinez-Cayuela, M (2003) Modification of phospholipids fatty acid composition in reuber H35 hepatoma cells: effect on HMG-CoA reductase activity. J Cell Biochem 90, 586591.
Gouni-Berthold, I & Berthold, HK (2002) Policosanol: clinical pharmacology and therapeutic significance of a new lipid-lowering agent. Am Heart J 143, 356365.
Greyling, A, De Witt, C, Oosthuizen, W & Jerling, JC (2006) Effects of a policosanol supplement on serum lipid concentrations in hypercholesterolaemic and heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Br J Nutr 95, 968975.
Hargrove, JL, Greenspan, P & Hartle, DK (2004) Nutritional significance and metabolism of very long chain fatty alcohols and acids from dietary waxes. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 229, 215226.
Hodge, VJ, Gould, SJ, Subramani, S, Moser, HW & Krisans, SK (1991) Normal cholesterol synthesis in human cells requires functional peroxisomes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 181, 537541.
Jakobs, BS & Wanders, RJ (1991) Conclusive evidence that very-long-chain fatty acids are oxidized exclusively in peroxisomes in human skin fibroblasts. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 178, 842847.
Jimenez, JJ, Bernal, JL, Aumente, S, Toribio, L & Bernal, J Jr (2003) Quality assurance of commercial beeswax II. Gas chromatography-electron impact ionization mass spectrometry of alcohols and acids. J Chromatogr A 1007, 101116.
Jones, PJ, Pencharz, PB & Clandinin, MT (1985a) Absorption of 13C-labeled stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids in humans: application to breath tests. J Lab Clin Med 105, 647652.
Jones, PJ, Pencharz, PB & Clandinin, MT (1985b) Whole body oxidation of dietary fatty acids: implications for energy utilization. Am J Clin Nutr 42, 769777.
Jonkers, IJ, Ledeboer, M, Steens, J, Smelt, AH & Masclee, AA (2000) Effects of very long chain versus long chain triglycerides on gastrointestinal motility and hormone release in humans. Dig Dis Sci 45, 17191726.
Kabir, Y & Kimura, S (1993) Biodistribution and metabolism of orally administered octacosanol in rats. Ann Nutr Metab 37, 3338.
Kabir, Y & Kimura, S (1995) Tissue distribution of (8-14C)-octacosanol in liver and muscle of rats after serial administration. Ann Nutr Metab 39, 279284.
Kris-Etherton, PM & Dietschy, J (1997) Design criteria for studies examining individual fatty acid effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors: human and animal studies. Am J Clin Nutr 65, 1590S1596S.
Lee, T (1979) Characterization of fatty alcohol:NAD+ oxidoreductase from rat liver. J Biol Chem 254, 28922896.
Lin, Y, Rudrum, M, van der Wielen, RP, Trautwein, EA, McNeill, G, Sierksma, A & Meijer, GW (2004) Wheat germ policosanol failed to lower plasma cholesterol in subjects with normal to mildly elevated cholesterol concentrations. Metabolism 53, 13091314.
McLaughlin, J, Grazia Luca, M, Jones, MN, D'Amato, M, Dockray, GJ & Thompson, DG (1999) Fatty acid chain length determines cholecystokinin secretion and effect on human gastric motility. Gastroenterology 116, 4653.
Mandel, H, Getsis, M, Rosenblat, M, Berant, M & Aviram, M (1995) Reduced cellular cholesterol content in peroxisome-deficient fibroblasts is associated with impaired uptake of the patient's low density lipoprotein and with reduced cholesterol synthesis. J Lipid Res 36, 13851391.
Mannaerts, GP, Van Veldhoven, PP & Casteels, M (2000) Peroxisomal lipid degradation via β- and α-oxidation in mammals. Cell Biochem Biophys 32, 7387.
Mas, R (2000) Policosanol. Hypolipidemic, antioxidant, treatment of atherosclerosis. Drugs Future 25, 569586.
Mendoza, S, Gamez, R, Noa, M, Mas, R, Castano, G, Mesa, AR, Mesa, M & de Armas, M (2001) Comparison of the effects of D-003 and policosanol on lipid profile and endothelial cells in normocholesterolemic rabbits. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 62, 209220.
Menendez, R, Amor, AM, Gonzalez, RM, Fraga, V & Mas, R (1996) Effect of policosanol on the hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis of normocholesterolemic rats. Biol Res 29, 253257.
Menendez, R, Amor, AM, Rodeiro, I, Gonzalez, RM, Gonzalez, PC, Alfonso, JL & Mas, R (2001a) Policosanol modulates HMG-CoA reductase activity in cultured fibroblasts. Arch Med Res 32, 812.
Menendez, R, Arruzazabala, L, Mas, R, et al. (1997) Cholesterol-lowering effect of policosanol on rabbits with hypercholesterolaemia induced by a wheat starch-casein diet. Br J Nutr 77, 923932.
Menendez, R, Marrero, D, Mas, R, Fernandez, I, Gonzalez, L & Gonzalez, RM (2005) In vitro and in vivo study of octacosanol metabolism. Arch Med Res 36, 113119.
Menendez, R, Mas, R, Amor, AM, Rodeiros, I, Gonzalez, RM & Alfonso, JL (2001) Inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis in cultured fibroblasts by D003, a mixture of very long chain saturated fatty acids. Pharmacol Res 44, 299304.
Mesa, AR, Mas, R, Noa, M, Hernandez, C, Rodeiro, I, Gamez, R, Garcia, M, Capote, A & Aleman, CL (1994) Toxicity of policosanol in beagle dogs: one-year study. Toxicol Lett 73, 8190.
Murphy, KJ, Saint, DA & Howe, PR (2004) Lack of effect of sugar cane and sunflower seed policosanols on plasma cholesterol in rabbits. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 13, S69.
Ng, CH, Leung, KY, Huang, Y & Chen, ZY (2005) Policosanol has no antioxidant activity in human low-density lipoprotein but increases excretion of bile acids in hamsters. J Agric Food Chem 53, 62896293.
Olivier, LM & Krisans, SK (2000) Peroxisomal protein targeting and identification of peroxisomal targeting signals in cholesterol biosynthetic enzymes. Biochim Biophys Acta 1529, 89102.
Ortensi, G, Gladstein, J, Valli, H & Testone, P (1997) A comparative study of policosanol versus simvastatin in elderly patients with hypercholesterolemia. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 58, 390–301.
Pons, P, Illnait, J, Mas, R, Rodriguez, M, Aleman, C, Fernandez, JC, Fernandez, L & Martin, M (1997) A comparative study of policosanol versus probucol in patients with hypercholesterolemia. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 58, 2635.
Reiner, Z, Tedeschi-Reiner, E & Romic, Z (2005) Effects of rice policosanol on serum lipoproteins, homocysteine, fibringogen and C-reactive protein in hypercholesterolaemic patients. Clin Drug Invest 25, 701707.
Rizzo, WB, Craft, DA, Dammann, AL & Phillips, MW (1987) Fatty alcohol metabolism in cultured human fibroblasts. Evidence for a fatty alcohol cycle. J Biol Chem 262, 1741217419.
Rodriguez-Echenique, C, Mesa, R, Mas, R, Noa, M, Menendez, R, Gonzalez, RM, Amor, AM, Fraga, V, Sotolongo, V & Laguna, A (1994) Effects of policosanol chronically administered in male monkeys (Macaca arctoides). Food Chem Toxicol 32, 565575.
Sallee, VL (1979) Permeation of long-chain fatty acids and alcohols in rat intestine. Am J Physiol 236, E721E727.
Sallee, VL & Dietschy, JM (1973) Determinants of intestinal mucosal uptake of short- and medium-chain fatty acids and alcohols. J Lipid Res 14, 475484.
Scott, RPW & Perry, JA (1998) Introduction to Analytical Gas Chromatography, 2nd ed. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Singh, DK, Li, L & Porter, TD (2006) Policosanol inhibits cholesterol synthesis in hepatoma cells by activation of AMP-kinase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 318, 10201026.
Wanders, RJ, van Grunsven, EG & Jansen, GA (2000) Lipid metabolism in peroxisomes: enzymology, functions and dysfunctions of the fatty acid α- and β-oxidation systems in humans. Biochem Soc Trans 28, 141149.
Wanders, RJ, Vreken, P, Ferdinandusse, S, Jansen, GA, Waterham, HR, van Roermund, CW & van Grunsven, EG (2001) Peroxisomal fatty acid α- and β-oxidation in humans: enzymology, peroxisomal metabolite transporters and peroxisomal diseases. Biochem Soc Trans 29, 250267.
Wang, Y, Ebine, N, Jia, X, Jones, PJ, Fairow, C & Jaeger, R (2005) Very long chain fatty acids (policosanols) and phytosterols affect plasma lipid levels and cholesterol biosynthesis in hamsters. Metabolism 54, 508514.
Wang, YW, Jones, PJ, Pischel, I & Fairow, C (2003) Effects of policosanols and phytosterols on lipid levels and cholesterol biosynthesis in hamsters. Lipids 38, 165170.
Whitcomb, RW, Linehan, WM & Knazek, RA (1988) Effects of long-chain, saturated fatty acids on membrane microviscosity and adrenocorticotropin responsiveness of human adrenocortical cells in vitro. J Clin Invest 81, 185188.
Whitney, EN & Rolfes, SR (2002) Understanding Nutrition, chapter 3 pp. 6491. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed