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Reproducibility of the serum lipid response to coffee oil in healthy volunteers

Mark V Boekschoten*, Mariëlle F Engberink, Martijn B Katan and Evert G Schouten

Author Affiliations

Division of Human Nutrition & Epidemiology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

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Nutrition Journal 2003, 2:8  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-2-8

Published: 4 October 2003



Humans and animals show a certain consistency in the response of their serum lipids to fat-modified diets. This may indicate a genetic basis underlying this response. Coffee oil might be used as a model substance to investigate which genes determine differences in the serum lipid response. Before carrying out such studies our objective was to investigate to what extent the effect of coffee oil on serum lipid concentrations is reproducible within subjects.


The serum lipid response of 32 healthy volunteers was measured twice in separate five-week periods in which coffee oil was administered (69 mg cafestol / day).


Total cholesterol levels increased by 24% in period 1 (range:0;52%) and 18% in period 2 (1;48%), LDL cholesterol by 29 % (-9;71%) and 20% (-12;57%), triglycerides by 66% (16;175%) and 58% (-13;202%), and HDL cholesterol did not change significantly: The range of the HDL response was -19;25% in period 1 and -20;33% in period 2.

The correlation between the two responses was 0.20 (95%CI -0.16, 0.51) for total cholesterol, 0.16 (95%CI -0.20, 0.48) for LDL, 0.67 (95%CI 0.42, 0.83) for HDL, and 0.77 (95%CI 0.56, 0.88) for triglycerides.


The responses of total and LDL cholesterol to coffee oil were poorly reproducible within subjects. The responses of HDL and triglycerides, however, appeared to be highly reproducible. Therefore, investigating the genetic sources of the variation in the serum-lipid response to coffee oil is more promising for HDL and triglycerides.

serum lipids; coffee oil; reproducibility; genetics