Cholesterol is a sterol lipid found in animal tissue which can be absorbed from the diet or made in the liver (and other  tissues).  In fasting samples most cholesterol will have been made by hepatocytes. Hypercholesterolaemia can result from increased production, reduced lipolysis/processing of lipoproteins, and some other processes. Hypocholesterolaemia can result from reduced production, decreased absorption and some other processes. Liver diseases may result in increases or decreases in cholesterol, depending on the pathogenesis.

Cholesterol is tested to assist with assessment of liver function and some endocrinopathies. Major differentials for increased cholesterol include postprandial absorption, nephrotic syndrome, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, excess glucocorticoids, pancreatitis, idiopathic hyperlipidaemia (breed related), and cholestasis. Major differentials for decreased cholesterol include hepatic dysfunction/shunt, low fat diet, protein losing enteropathy/GI disease/malabsorption, hyperthyroidism, hypoadrenocorticism.


All, including birds


Plasma or Serum


Gel, plain or heparin tube

Collection protocol:

Fasted sample preferred.


Reference(s): Stockham, S.L and Scott, M.A. Fundamentals of Veterinary Clinical Pathology 2nd Edition 2008. Thrall M.A. Veterinary Hematology and Clinical Chemistry 2006