Molecular Formula: C27H46O
Formula Weight: 228.24
Grade: Pharmaceutical Grade
Appearance: White Crystalline Solid
Cholesterol is essential for making the cell membrane and cell structures and is vital for synthesis of hormones, vitamin D and other substances.
Cell membrane synthesis – Cholesterol helps to regulate membrane fluidity over the range of physiological temperatures. It has a hydroxyl group that interacts with the polar head groups of the membrane phospholipids and sphingolipids. These exist along with nonpolar fatty acid chain of the other lipids. Cholesterol also prevents the passage of protons (positive hydrogen ions) and sodium ions across the plasma membranes.
Cell transporters and signalling molecules – The cholesterol molecules exist as transporters and signalling molecules along the membrane. Cholesterol also helps in nerve conduction. It forms the invaginated caveolae and clathrin-coated pits, including caveola-dependent and clathrin-dependent endocytosis. Endocytosis occurs when cells engulf foreign molecules. Cholesterols help in cell signalling by assisting in the formation of lipid rafts in the plasma membrane.
Cholesterol in the myelin sheaths – The nerve cells are covered with a protective layer or myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is rich in cholesterol. This is because it is derived from compacted layers of Schwann cell membrane. It helps in providing protection, insulation and allows more efficient conduction of nerve impulses.
Hormones and Vitamin D - Cholesterol is an important precursor molecule for the synthesis of Vitamin D and the steroid hormones like Corticosteroids, Sex-steroids (Sex hormones like Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone etc.)
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