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Cholesterol plays an indispensable role in regulating the properties of cell membranes in mammalian cells. Recent advances suggest that cholesterol exerts many of its actions mainly by maintaining sphingolipid rafts in a functional state. How rafts contribute to cholesterol metabolism and transport in the cell is still an open issue. It has long been known that cellular cholesterol levels are precisely controlled by biosynthesis, efflux from cells, and influx of lipoprotein cholesterol into cells. The regulation of cholesterol homeostasis is now receiving a new focus, and this changed perspective may throw light on diseases caused by cholesterol excess, the prime example being atherosclerosis.
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