British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Molecular Nutrition

Effect of the combinations between pea proteins and soluble fibres on cholesterolaemia and cholesterol metabolism in rats

Cinzia Parolinia1, Stefano Manzinia1, Marco Busnellia1, Elena Rigamontia1, Marta Marchesia1, Erika Diania1, Cesare R. Sirtoria1 and Giulia Chiesaa1 c1

a1 Department of Pharmacological Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Balzaretti 9, 20133 Milan, Italy


Many functional foods and dietary supplements have been reported to be beneficial for the management of dyslipidaemia, one of the major risk factors for CVD. Soluble fibres and legume proteins are known to be a safe and practical approach for cholesterol reduction. The present study aimed at investigating the hypocholesterolaemic effect of the combinations of these bioactive vegetable ingredients and their possible effects on the expression of genes regulating cholesterol homeostasis. A total of six groups of twelve rats each were fed, for 28 d, Nath's hypercholesterolaemic diets, differing in protein and fibre sources, being, respectively, casein and cellulose (control), pea proteins and cellulose (pea), casein and oat fibres (oat), casein and apple pectin (pectin), pea proteins and oat fibres (pea+oat) and pea proteins and apple pectin (pea+pectin). Administration of each vegetable-containing diet was associated with lower total cholesterol concentrations compared with the control. The combinations (pea+oat and pea+pectin) were more efficacious than fibres alone in modulating cholesterolaemia ( − 53 and − 54 %, respectively, at 28 d; P< 0·005). In rats fed the diets containing oat fibres or apple pectin, alone or in combination with pea proteins, a lower hepatic cholesterol content (P< 0·005) and higher hepatic mRNA concentrations of CYP7A1 and NTCP were found when compared with the control rats (P< 0·05). In summary, the dietary combinations of pea proteins and oat fibres or apple pectin are extremely effective in lowering plasma cholesterol concentrations in rats and affect cellular cholesterol homeostasis by up-regulating genes involved in hepatic cholesterol turnover.

(Received March 16 2012)

(Revised January 28 2013)

(Accepted January 28 2013)

(Online publication March 05 2013)

Key Words:

  • Pea proteins;
  • Soluble fibres;
  • Cholesterol;
  • Rats


c1 Corresponding author: G. Chiesa, fax +39 2 50318284, email


  Abbreviations: ABCG5, ATP-binding cassette transporter G5; ABCG8, ATP-binding cassette transporter G8; CYP7A1, cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase