Sitosterolaemia is an extremely rare autosomal recessive disease, the key feature of which is the impairment of pathways that normally prevent absorption and retention of non-cholesterol sterols, for example plant sterols and shellfish sterols. The clinical manifestations are akin to familial hypercholesterolaemia (such as presence of tendon xanthomas and premature atherosclerosis), but with “normal to moderately elevated” cholesterol levels. The gene(s) causing sitosterolaemia was mapped to the STSL locus on human chromosome 2p21, and mutations in either of the two genes that comprise this locus, ABCG5 or ABCG8, cause this disease. Exact prevalence is unknown, but there are estimated to be 80–100 cases around the world. This rare disease has shed light into the molecular mechanisms that control sterol trafficking in the enterocyte and hepatocyte; ABCG5 and ABCG8 heterodimerise to form a sterol efflux transporter in the liver and intestine. In this review the pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and approach to clinical and laboratory diagnosis of this disease are described.
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Competing interests: None declared.