A comparison of the lipid-lowering and intestinal morphological effects of cholestyramine, chitosan, and oat gum in rats.


Jennings CD, Boleyn K, Bridges SR, Wood PJ, Anderson JW




Proc Soc Exp Biol Med


Cholestyramine, chitosan, and oat gum are lipid-lowering compounds. Cholestyramine use in humans may contribute to colonic adenocarcinoma; chitosan and oat gum are being studied in the rat to determine their potential for human use. To compare these compounds, we fed three groups of 10 male Sprague-Dawley rats one of the substances at 5% of diet with 1% cholesterol and 0.2% cholic acid; two other groups were fed cellulose with and without 1% cholesterol and 0.2% cholic acid. All groups had similar food intake and weight gains. Cholesterol feeding increased total liver lipids almost 3-fold and liver cholesterol concentration almost 10-fold. Cholestyramine, oat gum, and chitosan all significantly lowered liver cholesterol with cholestyramine feeding yielding levels identical to the noncholesterol-fed basal group. Chitosan and oat gum lowered liver cholesterol moderately. Cholestyramine and chitosan both significantly lowered serum cholesterol compared to the cellulose group. Oat gum was less effective. Hemoglobin and serum iron were similar in all groups except the oat gum group, which had decreased serum iron. Histological examination of small and large bowel with morphometry revealed statistically significant increases in both proximal and distal small bowel and distal large bowel mucosal thickness in the cholestyramine-fed group. No changes were noted in the proximal large bowel. Neither chitosan nor oat gum produced mucosal change other than an increase in the distal small bowel with the oat gum diet. Chitosan may have lipid-lowering effects similar to those of cholestyramine without the deleterious changes in intestinal mucosa.