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Any of various sterols obtained from plants, including ergosterol and stigmasterol.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a plant sterol released from the unsaponified parts of plant lipides. In contrast to animal sterols, such as cholesterol, the side chain in phytosterols is unsaturated and contains not eight carbon atoms but nine or ten. Most phytosterols are optically active crystalline substances with physical and chemical properties similar to those of other sterols.

The most common phytosterols include (β-sitosterol (C29H50O) and stigmasterol (C29H48O), which are released by cotton-seed, soybean, and other oils and from the by-products of the sulfate process in the cellulose industry. Isomers of stigmasterol are α-spinasterol (from spinach), fucosterol (from fungi), brassicasterol (C28H46O; from cabbage), and campesterol (C28H48O; from cabbage). Ergosterol is also a phytosterol.

Phytosterols are found in plants in free form, as well as in compounds with carbohydrates or fatty acids or with both. In some plants, β-sitosterol, like cholesterol, serves as the precursor to progesterone. Stigmasterol serves as a vitamin for guinea pigs (antiankylosis factor). Phytosterols also include certain C28 and C29 sterols from ferns and conifers that induce molting in insects (ecdysones).

Phytosterols are used in the pharmaceutical industry for the synthesis of steroid preparations.


Heftman, E. Biokhimiia steroidov. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from English.)
Heftmann, E. “Biochemistry of Plant Steroids.” Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 1963, vol. 14.
Bean, G. A. “Phytosterols.” Advances in Lipid Research, 1973, vol. 11.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(3) The ratios of the three principal terrestrial sterols campesterol, stigmasterol and [beta]-sitosterol (Volkman, 1986), i.e., 1:1.6:6.6, which is characteristic of sediments where most of the sterols are derived from higher plants (Volkman, 1986).
1 illustrates the differences in the cholesterol precursors lanosterol, desmosterol, lathosterol, and 7-dehydrocholesterol together with the plant sterols campesterol and sitosterol.
Several sterol-type compounds circulate along with cholesterol in serum (23), and previous studies have shown that [beta]-sistosterol, campesterol, desmosterol, and lathosterol interfere with AK measurement of cholesterol (4).
The phytosterol mixture was two-thirds esterified and one-third non-esterified and consisted of beta-sitosterol (48%), campesterol (27%) and stigmasterol (21%).
The most abundant phytosterols - [Beta]-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol - have seen use in medicine in recent years due to their relatively wide spectrum of therapeutic effects and non-toxicity in humans and animals.
The three most abundant plant sterols are beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol.
Technical [beta]-sitosterol (~60%, SigmaAldrich) was chosen as a reference mixture as it contains two other phytosterols (campesterol and sitostanol) which can be used for further authentication of chromatographic peaks in natural samples.
Plant part Class of the Constituents Reference constituents Leaves Alkaloids 3,4-Dimethoxy- [34] [beta]- phenethylamine 3-Methoxytyramine [34] Tyramine [34] Fatty acids Methyl palmitate [31] Methyl linoleate Methyl [alpha]- linoleate Flavonoid Vitexin [35] Phytosterol [beta]-Sitosterol [35] glycoside glucoside Lactone Dihydroactinidiolide [28] Phenolic 2,4-Ditert- [36] compounds butylphenol [alpha]-Tocopherol [36, 37] Catechin [37] Epicatechin [37] Quercetin [37] Myricetin [37] Sterols Campesterol [28] Stigmasterol [beta]-Sitosterol [36] Terpenoids [beta]-Carotene [37] Phytol [36] Fruit Caretenoids Lutein ([beta], [26, 37] e-carotene-3,3'- diol) Zeaxanthin ([beta], [beta]-carotene- 3,3'-diol) TABLE 5: Percentage (% w/w) of mineral contents in the leaves of P bleo [38].
Teshima and Kanazawa [11] have reported the substancial amount of 22-dehydrocholesterol, brassicasterol, desmosterol, campesterol, 24- methylenecholesterol and b-sitosterol in gastropod species Conomurex luhuanus, Charonia sauliae, Cymatiidae sp and Murex asianus from Japan.
Sitosterolemia is characterized by increased concentrations of the plant sterols [beta]-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol (see the online Data Supplement) in blood and tissues.