Biological activity of some oxygenated sterols

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Science  11 Aug 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4355, pp. 498-501
DOI: 10.1126/science.663671


A group of oxygenated sterols has been identified as potent and specific inhibitors of sterol biosynthesis. The ability of these compounds to inhibit sterol synthesis in cultured cells and the ineffectiveness of cholesterol under the same conditions suggest that feedback regulation of sterol biosynthesis may be brought about by an oxygenated sterol rather than by cholesterol. The nature of the regulatory sterol may vary in different cells with their specific requirements for cholesterol as a structural component or as a precursor of other steroid products. The use of oxygenated sterols to block sterol synthesis in cultured cells provides new information regarding the role of sterol in cell membrane structure and function. For example, de novo sterol synthesis is required for DNA synthesis and cell division by some cultured cells. Studies with cultured cells, and with rats and mice in vivo, suggest that oxygenated sterols could be of value in the treatment of several important human diseases.

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