Policosanols: Chemistry, Occurrence, and Health Effects

  • Monthana WeerawatanakornEmail author
  • Kanyaphat Meerod
  • Donporn Wongwaiwech
  • Chi-Tang Ho
Natural Products: From Chemistry to Pharmacology (C Ho, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Natural Products: From Chemistry to Pharmacology


Purpose of Review

Overwhelming evidence indicates that reduction of blood low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), ratio of LDL-C/HDL-C, and TG/HDL-C ameliorate the occurrence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Long-chain alcohols and aldehydes known generically as policosanol (PC) and policosanal have attracted attention from researchers and scientists due to their cholesterol-lowering health benefits. Many researchers reported that PC decreased serum cholesterol, while others failed to reproduce this effect. The objective of this investigation was to update research data and establish the optimal future research direction of PC as a cholesterol-lowering alternative for use in food, dietary supplements, and pharmaceutical industries.

Recent Findings

PC distribution differs in individual plants and maturity stage affects composition. PCs are considered as limiting nutraceuticals. Regular food sources for humans include rice bran oil, olive oil especially cold-pressed extraction, and non-centrifugal sugar products from sugarcane. Waste products discarded from rice bran oil are considered as good sources of policosanol. Most human clinical trials found PC to be effective in reducing serum cholesterol, whereas others reported no effect, especially for PC extracted from dietary sources. Inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase as the rate-controlling enzyme of the mevalonate pathway has been proved as the cellular mechanism which lowers serum-cholesterol levels. This review offers ideas for the direction of future PC research.


PC is a limited nutraceutical which offers promise for the prevention of hypercholesterolemia. Further studies are required to determine an effective PC composition for cholesterol reduction which will benefit the food, dietary supplement, and pharmaceutical industries.


Policosanol Serum cholesterol Hypocholesterolemic effect Dietary source 



ATP-binding cassette subfamily A member 1


Adenosine diphosphate


Apolipoprotein A1


Apolipoprotein B


Aspartate aminotransferase


Cholesteryl ester transport protein


Creatine phosphokinase


C-reactive protein


Cardiovascular disease


Cytochrome P450 cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase


Farnesoid X receptor


Gas chromatography with mass spectrometry


Gas chromatography with flame ionization detector


Gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry


Gradient gel electrophoresis




High-density lipoprotein cholesterol


3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutoryl coenzyme A


Heme oxygenase-1


High-performance liquid chromatography


Intermediate-density lipoprotein


Lecithincholesterol acyltransferase


Lipid-depleted medium


Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol


LDL receptor


Liver X receptor


Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus


Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 policosanol (PC)








Sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c


Sterol regulatory element-binding protein-2


Serum total cholesterol


Type 2 diabetes mellitus


Serum triglyceride


Thromboxane A2


Thromboxane B2


Very low-density lipoprotein



This review article was supported by the National Research Council of Thailand for project number of R2562B033.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monthana Weerawatanakorn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kanyaphat Meerod
    • 1
  • Donporn Wongwaiwech
    • 1
  • Chi-Tang Ho
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agro-IndustryNaresuan UniversityPhitsanulokThailand
  2. 2.Department of Food ScienceRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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