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Lupin protein isolate versus casein modifies cholesterol excretion and mRNA expression of intestinal sterol transporters in a pig model

Juliane Radtke1, Stefanie Geissler1, Alexandra Schutkowski1, Corinna Brandsch1, Holger Kluge1, Marcello M Duranti2, Sylvia Keller3, Gerhard Jahreis3, Frank Hirche1 and Gabriele I Stangl1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Von-Danckelmann-Platz 2, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany

2 Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Giovanni Celoria 2, 20133 Milano, Italy

3 Department of Nutritional Physiology, Institute of Nutrition, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Str. 24, 07743 Jena, Germany

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2014, 11:9  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-9

Published: 3 February 2014



Lupin proteins exert hypocholesterolemic effects in man and animals, although the underlying mechanism remains uncertain. Herein we investigated whether lupin proteins compared to casein modulate sterol excretion and mRNA expression of intestinal sterol transporters by use of pigs as an animal model with similar lipid metabolism as humans, and cellular cholesterol-uptake by Caco-2 cells.


Two groups of pigs were fed cholesterol-containing diets with either 230 g/kg of lupin protein isolate from L. angustifolius or 230 g/kg casein, for 4 weeks. Faeces were collected quantitatively over a 5 d period for analysis of neutral sterols and bile acids by gas chromatographically methods. The mRNA abundances of intestinal lipid transporters were analysed by real-time RT-PCR. Cholesterol-uptake studies were performed with Caco-2 cells that were incubated with lupin conglutin γ, phytate, ezetimibe or albumin in the presence of labelled [4-14C]-cholesterol.


Pigs fed the lupin protein isolate revealed lower cholesterol concentrations in total plasma, LDL and HDL than pigs fed casein (P < 0.05). Analysis of faeces revealed a higher output of cholesterol in pigs that were fed lupin protein isolate compared to pigs that received casein (+57.1%; P < 0.05). Relative mRNA concentrations of intestinal sterol transporters involved in cholesterol absorption (Niemann-Pick C1-like 1, scavenger receptor class B, type 1) were lower in pigs fed lupin protein isolate than in those who received casein (P < 0.05). In vitro data showed that phytate was capable of reducing the uptake of labelled [4-14C]-cholesterol into the Caco-2 cells to the same extend as ezetimibe when compared to control (−20.5% vs. −21.1%; P < 0.05).


Data reveal that the cholesterol-lowering effect of lupin protein isolate is attributable to an increased faecal output of cholesterol and a reduced intestinal uptake of cholesterol. The findings indicate phytate as a possible biofunctional ingredient of lupin protein isolate.

Lupin protein isolate; Faecal cholesterol output; Intestinal sterol transporters; Cholesterol-uptake; Pigs; Caco-2 cells