Rudel, Lawrence L. Lipid Sciences Section, Department of Pathology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Edwards, Peter A. Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California.
Last reviewed:July 2019
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- Free and esterified forms
- Intestinal cholesterol absorption
- Biosynthesis and feedback regulation
- Plasma lipoproteins and atherosclerosis
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A cyclic hydrocarbon alcohol commonly classified as a lipid because it is insoluble in water, but soluble in a number of organic solvents. Cholesterol (C27H46O) [Fig. 1] is the major sterol (steroid alcohol) produced by vertebrate cells and the most common sterol of eukaryotes, but it is absent from most prokaryotes. Insects and most invertebrates cannot synthesize cholesterol; therefore, they rely on dietary cholesterol for use in their membranes and as a precursor of ecdysone, which is a molting hormone required during growth and development. In vertebrates, the highest concentration of cholesterol occurs in the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves and in the plasma membrane that surrounds all cells. In addition to nerve tissue, cholesterol is particularly abundant in the liver, skin, and intestine. See also: Cell membrane; Ecdysone; Eukaryota; Intestine; Lipid; Liver; Nerve; Skin; Steroid
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