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Phytosterols and their oxidation products, namely oxyphytosterols, are natural compounds present in plant foods. With increased intake of phytosterol-enriched functional food products, the exposure of both phytosterols and oxyphytosterols is rising. Over the past ten years, researches have been focused on their absorption and metabolism in human body, as well as their biological effects. More importantly, recent studies showed that phytosterols and oxyphytosterols can traverse the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the brain. As brain health problems resulting from ageing being more serious, attenuating central nervous system (CNS) disorders with active compounds in food are becoming a hot topic. Phytosterols and oxyphytosterols have been shown to implicated in cognition altering and the pathologies of several CNS disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis. We will overview these findings with a focus on the contents of phytosterols and oxyphytosterols in food and their dietary intake, as well as their origins in the brain, and illustrate molecular pathways through which they affect brain health, in terms of inflammation, cholesterol homeostasis, oxidative stress, and mitochondria function. The existing scientific gaps of phytosterols and oxyphytosterols to brain health in knowledge are also discussed, highlighting research directions in the future.


Fan Jie, Xuan Yang, Lipeng Wu, Mengmeng Wang, Baiyi Lu. Linking phytosterols and oxyphytosterols from food to brain health: origins, effects, and underlying mechanisms. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2022;62(13):3613-3630

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PMID: 33397124

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