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Cholesterol is a waxy steroid metabolite found in the cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma. It is an important structural component of mammalian cell membranes, where it is establishes proper membrane permeability and fluidity. Cholesterol also aides the process of bile acids, steroid hormones, and Vitamin D manufacture. Although mainly made by animals, plants and fungi also make small amounts of cholesterol.
Despite these important biological roles, a high level of cholesterol in the blood serum is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the biggest killer worldwide.
There are a range of cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins to reduce high cholesterol and protect patients from cardiovascular disease.
Cholesterol has been demonised for a long time, as high cholesterol levels are seen as major risk factors for atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and gallstones. However, cholesterol is an essential component of mammalian cell membranes and is required for proper membrane function. It exists in huge quantities in the human body. In addition to being essential for cell survival, and hence all animal life in general, cholesterol also plays a crucial role in the production of specific immune responses.
Source IMS Health
Note HMG-CoA reductase: 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase. A class of drugs for cholesterol lowering.
Published by Drug Store News
Publication date February 2014
Original source Drug Store News, February 2014, page 38