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Carnauba wax ester reduces blood cholesterol as effectively as a statin, study shows


  • p-Methoxycinnamic acid diester (PCO-C) naturally occurs in carnauba wax
  • PCO-C significantly reduces total cholesterol in a mouse model of hyperlipidemia
  • Cholesterol-lowering effect of PCO-C is similar to statin treatment


This study was designed to evaluate the hypolipidemic effect of p-methoxycinnamic diester (PCO-C) in a mouse model of acute and chronic dyslipidemia. PCO-C is a natural constituent of carnauba wax powder extracted from the leaves of the Carnauba (Copernicia prunifera) tree.

For the acute study, the researchers induced hyperlipidemia in male Swiss mice by administration of a single intraperitoneal injection of Triton WR-1339. The mice were randomized to six treatments (n= 7 per group): negative control (saline), positive control (Triton injection), gemfibrozil (100 mg/kg), and PCO-C at 10, 50 and 100 mg/kg. The groups were treated three times: one hour before and 22 and 46 hours after Triton administration.

Results indicate that, compared to the positive control, PCO-C (50 and 100 mg/kg) and gemfibrozil had a significant hypocholesterolemic effect (P<.05), while only high-dose PCO-C (100 mg/kg) and gemfibrozil significantly reduced (P<.05) triglycerides.

For the chronic study, the researchers induced hyperlipidemia in male Swiss mice by feeding a hyperlipidemic diet (HD) diet (10% coconut fat, 1% cholesterol and 0.1% cholic acid as major constituents) for 11 days. The mice were acclimatized for 1 week before the experiment and dyslipidemia was confirmed by blood tests. The mice were then randomized to six treatments (n= 7 per group) for 60 days: standard diet (SD), HD only, HD plus PCO-C (10, 50 and 100 mg/kg), and HD plus simvastatin (20 mg/kg). Fasting blood parameters were measure at the end of each month of treatment.

After 30 and 60 days, PCO-C (all doses) and simvastatin significantly reduced total cholesterol (P<.05) compared to the HD group. For example, after 60 days, PCO-C treatment reduced total cholesterol levels to 195 mg/dL (PCO-C10), 187 mg/dL (PCO-C50) and 147 mg/dL (PCO-C100) vs. 271.8 mg/dL (HD group). Simvastatin treatment resulted in a similar reduction (197 mg/dL), indicating PCO-C and simvastatin had the same effectiveness in reducing total cholesterol. No effect on triglycerides were found. (The diet was unable to change this parameter during the first 30 days of treatment. After 60 days, the HD significantly reduced triglyceride levels and the treatments did not alter this parameter).

While more research is needed, these preliminary findings suggest that oral treatment of PCO-C derived from carnauba wax powder may have therapeutic value for treatment of hyperlipidemia.


Filho ACVA, Rodrigues PAS, Benjamin SR, et al. Hypolipidemic activity of p-methoxycinnamic diester (PCO-C) isolated from Copernicia prunifera against Triton WR-1339 and hyperlipidemic diet in mice. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017;56:198-203.

PMID: 28961514