Biological Significance of Cholesterol and Conversion of Cholesterol into Bile Acids, Steroid, Hormone and Vitamin D : Pharmaceutical Guidelines -->

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Biological Significance of Cholesterol and Conversion of Cholesterol into Bile Acids, Steroid, Hormone and Vitamin D

The balance of cholesterol is determined by certain processes. A significant role is played by cholesterol in the lipids that compose cell membranes.

The Biological significance of cholesterol

  • The balance of cholesterol is determined by certain processes.
  • A significant role is played by cholesterol in the lipids that compose cell membranes.
  • The production of bile acids and steroid hormones is dependent on cholesterol.
  • To make vitamin D, intermediates of cholesterol biosynthesis must be present. Intermediates are also required to modify membrane proteins post-translationally.
  • Atherosclerosis is caused by elevated cholesterol levels.
Despite popular belief, cholesterol plays a much greater role in the human body than just being bad. Cholesterol performs a variety of essential physiological functions, including:
  • The cell membranes of both humans and animals are primarily composed of cholesterol. These membrane proteins, such as receptors and transporters, are affected by cholesterol's influence on physical properties. Several cellular functions are severely compromised when membrane cholesterol is depleted.
  • The body synthesizes bile acids from cholesterol, which are responsible for breaking down fat.
  • All steroid hormones, such as androgens, estrogens, progestagens, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and calcium D, are derivations of cholesterol.
Even so, cholesterol is certainly an integral part of the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

Conversion of cholesterol into bile acids, steroid, hormone, and Vitamin D

ATP and reductive energy are used in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway, which is why it is included in the list. The cellular membrane contains lipoproteins, which function as structural components. The isoprenoid pathway connects cholesterol to fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D via dehydrocholesterol, which is directly metabolized into cholesterol.



Mevalonate is formed when HMG-CoA is converted into HMG-CoA reductase. Coenzyme A is released via this reaction, which requires NADPH, and this appears to be a critical step in the pathway. During phosphorylation and feedback inhibition, cholesterol inhibits the enzyme by covalent modification, while cholesterol inhibits the enzyme by feedback inhibition. Transcription is also involved in regulating the enzyme's synthesis. Low cholesterol levels lead to increased transcription.

The five-carbon intermediate isopentenyl-pyrophosphate (IPP) is produced by phosphorylating mevalonate twice and then decarboxylating it. Dimethylallylpyrophosphate (DMAPP) can readily be formed from IPP. In the synthesis of cholesterol and other compounds, these two five-carbon compounds, also known as isoprene, act as building blocks. These compounds are synthesized in a pathway called the isoprenoid pathway. IPP and DMAPP are joined to produce geranyl-pyrophosphate in the direction of cholesterol. Using another IPP, geranyl pyrophosphate can be combined with farnesyl-pyrophosphate to form a 15-carbon compound. In the reaction between two farnesyl-pyrophosphates, squalene is formed, which is a 30-carbon compound. Molecular oxygen and reduction of squalene to form lanosterol, a cyclic intermediate similar to cholesterol, forms a complicated rearrangement. When lanosterol is converted to cholesterol, the endoplasmic reticulum undergoes a lengthy process involving 19 steps.



An aromatic ring is formed when estrogens are synthesized from androgens, which is an interesting reaction. The enzyme responsible for the process is known as aromatase, and it has important medical implications. Some tumors grow faster when estrogens are present, so aromatase inhibitors are prescribed to stop estrogens from forming and slow tumor growth. The isoprenoid synthesis pathway also leads to the synthesis of other fat-soluble vitamins as well as chlorophyll. Lycopene, as well as Vitamins E and K, is synthesized by yeast and plants through a process called geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate joining.

Metabolism of bile acids

During digestion, polar bile acids are created through cholesterol, which are necessary for solubilizing fat. Bile acids are formed by oxidizing the side chain of very non-polar cholesterol molecules. In addition to hydroxylation of the rings and links to other polar compounds, other alterations are used to make these compounds more polar. Among the common bile acids are deoxycholic acid, cholic acid, chenodeoxycholic acid, glycocholic acid, and taurocholic acid. As another important fact about bile acids, it is important to note that their synthesis reduces the level of cholesterol in the body and enhances the liver's ability to absorb LDL particles. As a result, some levels of cholesterol are reduced when bile acids are recycled effectively. When the recycling is inhibited though, cholesterol levels are reduced.

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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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