Increased intestinal contents viscosity reduces cholesterol absorption efficiency in hamsters fed hydroxypropyl methylcellulose

Timothy P. Carr, Daniel D. Gallaher, Ching Hui Yang, Craig A. Hassel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that increased intestinal contents viscosity lowers plasma cholesterol concentrations by decreasing cholesterol absorption. Male Golden Syrian hamsters were fed for 4 wk diets containing 0.12% cholesterol, and either 4% cellulose or four different viscosity grades of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC). Dietary HPMC confers viscosity in the small intestine but is resistant to fermentation. Cholesterol absorption efficiency was measured using the dual isotope ratio method, and plasma and liver cholesterol concentrations were determined enzymatically. Ex vivo viscosity of intestinal contents supernatants was measured using a Wells-Brookfield cone/plate viscometer, and the means of treatment groups ranged from 6 to 6532 mPa · s. Relative to dietary cellulose, all viscosity grades of HPMC resulted in significantly lower cholesterol absorption efficiency, lower plasma cholesterol concentration, and lower liver cholesteryl ester content. The logarithm of intestinal contents ex vivo viscosity was inversely correlated with dietary cholesterol absorption (r2 = 0.84, P = 0.028). Furthermore, dietary cholesterol absorption was positively correlated with plasma cholesterol concentration (r2 = 0.89, P = 0.017) and liver cholesteryl ester content (r2 = 0.96, P = 0.0031). Thus, the data suggest an independent role of intestinal contents viscosity in lowering plasma cholesterol concentration and liver cholesteryl ester content by reducing cholesterol absorption efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1463-1469
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • cholesterol absorption
  • dietary fiber
  • hamsters
  • plasma cholesterol
  • viscosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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