AskDefine | Define sterol

Dictionary Definition

sterol n : any of a group of natural steroid alcohols derived from plants or animals; they are waxy insoluble substances [syn: steroid alcohol]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. any member of a class of steroids containing a hydroxyl group in the 3-position of the A-ring; they are found in all animal and plant tissue and play an important role in hormone chemistry

See also

Extensive Definition

Sterols, or steroid alcohols are a subgroup of steroids with a hydroxyl group at the 3-position of the A-ring. They are amphipathic lipids synthesized from acetyl-coenzyme A via the HMG-CoA reductase pathway. The overall molecule is quite flat. The hydroxyl group on the A ring is polar. The rest of the aliphatic chain is non-polar.
Sterols of plants are called phytosterols and sterols of animals are called zoosterols. Important zoosterols are cholesterol and some steroid hormones; notable phytosterols include campesterol, sitosterol, and stigmasterol. Ergosterol is a sterol present in the cell membrane of fungi, where it serves a role similar to cholesterol in animal cells.
Sterols and related compounds play essential roles in the physiology of eukaryotic organisms. For example, cholesterol forms part of the cellular membrane in animals, where it affects the cell membrane's fluidity and serves as secondary messenger in developmental signaling. In humans and other animals, corticosteroids, such as cortisol act as signalling compounds in cellular communication and general metabolism.
Phytosterols may block cholesterol absorption sites in the human intestine thus helping to reduce cholesterol in humans.

External links

sterol in German: Sterine
sterol in Spanish: esterol
sterol in Esperanto: Sterolo
sterol in French: Stérol
sterol in Italian: Steroli
sterol in Hebrew: סטרול
sterol in Japanese: ステロール
sterol in Polish: Sterol
sterol in Portuguese: Esterol
sterol in Romanian: Sterol
sterol in Thai: สเตอรอล
sterol in Turkish: Sterol
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