Influence of Dietary Cholesterol on Vitamin D Metabolism in Formula-Fed Preterm Neonates

Picaud, Jean-Charles*; Boucher, Philippe†; Lapillonne, Alexandre*; Berthouze, Magali†; Delvin, Edgar‡; Boehm, Günther‡; Claris, Oliver*; Laborie, Sophie*; Reygrobellet, Bernadette*; Lapillonne, Helene†; Glorieux, Francis H.‡; Salle, Bernard L.*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
Original Articles

Objectives: Supplementation of preterm formulas with cholesterol could help to mimic the fat composition of human milk. However, this could possibly influence vitamin D 25-hydroxylation because this reaction is catalyzed in part by the mitochondrial cytochrome P-450, the enzyme responsible for the 27-hydroxylation of cholesterol. The purpose of this study was to verify whether the addition of cholesterol to preterm formulas could interfere with vitamin D metabolism in preterm neonates.

Methods: In a prospective study, 30 preterm neonates were randomly assigned to a low (< 0.03 g/L), medium (0.15 g/L), or high (0.30 g/L) cholesterol-content preterm formula until theoretical term (i.e., 40 weeks post-conceptional age). Anthropometric data and serum hydroxy-vitamin D and 1,25 dihydroxy-vitamin D concentrations were measured at study entry and theoretical term. In a subgroup of 14 subjects, serum cholesterol and lymphocyte 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase mRNA were also assessed.

Results: (median [25th, 75 th centiles]): At theoretical term, there were no significant differences in serum hydroxy-vitamin D concentrations among the three groups, even after adjustment for confounding variables (65 [50, 78] nmol/L, 79 [59, 86] nmol/L, and 67 [43, 103] nmol/L, respectively, P = 0.65) or 1,25 dihydroxy-vitamin D (P = 0.88). Furthermore, there were no significant differences in 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase mRNA copy numbers.

Conclusions: In preterm neonates fed formulas with a cholesterol content similar to or higher than that of human milk, we did not observe deleterious effects on vitamin D metabolism. However, long-term effects of cholesterol supplementation require further studies.

Author Information

*Department of Neonatology, Human Nutrition Research Center, and †Department of Biochemistry, Hospital E. Herriot, Lyon, France; ‡Genetics, Shriners Hospital, Montreal, Canada; ‡Center For Infant Nutrition, Milano, Italy.

Received November 19, 2001; accepted March 20, 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor Jean-Charles Picaud, Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Arnaud de Villeneuve Hospital, 371 Avenue Doyen Giraud, 34295 Montpellier Cedex 05, France (e-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.