During the past four decades, research efforts directed toward reducing shell egg cholesterol content have centred on genetic selection or alteration of the laying hens' diet with various nutrients, natural products, non-nutritive factors, or pharmacological agents. However, the vast majority of these experimental approaches elicited only minimal changes (<10%) at best or, as in the case of dietary azasterols and triparanol, resulted in the unacceptable replacement of yolk cholesterol by desmosterol. In contrast, when 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors ('statins'), garlic paste, or pharmacological amounts of copper were orally administered to chickens, yolk cholesterol levels were reduced by up to 46%, 32%, or 34%, respectively. The previous paper in this two-part series provided a justification for low-cholesterol egg production and reviewed cholesterol metabolism in the laying hen, avian embryonic cholesterol needs, and genetic and nutritional approaches to chicken egg cholesterol reduction. The present paper provides a comprehensive overview of the use of non-nutritive dietary factors and select pharmacological compounds as egg cholesterol-lowering agents, and discusses emerging strategies for lowering the cholesterol content of shell eggs. With the recent advances in avian genomics and transgenesis, it is anticipated that the greatest advances in the area of yolk cholesterol reduction will be attained through manipulation of key genes whose protein products mediate intestinal sterol absorption, hepatic cholesterol and lipoprotein synthesis, and/or lipoprotein uptake by growing oocytes. However, the future commercial availability of low-cholesterol eggs produced by transgenic hens ultimately will be influenced by the nature of the regulatory environment for bioengineered foods, public acceptance, and economics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology