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Open Access Short Report

Rapid purification of gram quantities of β-sitosterol from a commercial phytosterol mixture

Narayanan Srividya, Deanna Brooke Heidorn and Bernd Markus Lange*

Author Affiliations

Institute of Biological Chemistry and M.J. Murdock Metabolomics Laboratory, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2014, 7:182  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-182

Published: 27 March 2014



β-Sitosterol, a plant sterol or phytosterol, has commercial uses in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries, but is also employed frequently in biological research. Phytosterols always accumulate as mixtures, and obtaining highly pure β-sitosterol in larger quantities for biological assays has been a challenge.


An improved method for the rapid purification of β-sitosterol from a commercial phytosterol extract is presented. Fractional crystallization of soybean oil yielded a soluble and an insoluble fraction. β-Sitosterol was purified by silica gel and Na-Y zeolite chromatography.


The rapid and cost effective three-step purification described here afforded β-sitosterol in gram quantities with high purity (>92%) and yield (>22%).

β-Sitosterol; Purification; Fractional crystallization; Chromatography; Phytosterol; Zeolite