Cholesterol

Topics: Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis, Cell membrane Pages: 2 (682 words) Published: November 23, 2011
“Statins for all! ….but isn’t cholesterol a vital cellular component?” Nowadays, many people associate cholesterol with diseases and refer it to something harmful to human body; however, cholesterol is not all bad. In fact, it is one of the essential cellular components in animal cells. Figure 1 (NIGMS, 2011) Figure 2. (Medex UK, 2009)

Cholesterol is a waxy steroid, mostly made by in the liver and found certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs and meat. Cholesterol is needed in the body for various functions such as insulating nerve fibres, making hormones such as sex hormones and steroid hormones and for making bile acids, which are essential for the digestion and absorption of fats, while the most vital function of that is to make up the membrane structure of every cell in the body (Stanfield, 2010).The living cell is being separated from its surroundings by plasma membrane, consisting of phospholipid bilayer which has a fluid structure (Stanfield, 2010). It is very important that the plasma membrane to retain its fluidity under specific environmental conditions. If the membrane solidifies or if it is too fluid, the function of some proteins in it may become inhibited. This is where the role of cholesterol becomes increasingly significant. At different temperatures, cholesterol has different effects on membrane fluidity. It acts as “fluidity buffer” for the membrane, inhibiting the changes in it which could be caused by changes in temperature (Reece et al., 2011, p.174). Cholesterol restricts the membrane fluidity through restraining phospholipid movement at relatively high temperature; however, it lowers the temperature at which membrane solidify by avoiding phospholipids to pack closely (Reece et al., 2011). Furthermore, cholesterol is important in formation of areas,...
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