Reaction Paper On Cholesterol

751 Words4 Pages
Essay 18: Cholesterol Explained

At this point in time, the word 'cholesterol' has a decidedly negative connotation, conjuring up images of gallstones, heart attacks, and strokes. Although excess cholesterol often plays a role in these disease states, that is only part of the story. This article will focus on what cholesterol is and why the human body needs a certain amount of it to function properly. Cholesterol is a small, hydrophobic molecule composed almost entirely of carbon and hydrogen atoms. The 27 carbon atoms in cholesterol are all derived from the molecule acetyl CoA (coenzyme A), synthesized from the breakdown of amino acids, sugars, and fats. Acetyl CoA is often channeled into the Krebs cycle in order to harvest its chemical energy; however, it is also used as the initial compound in many biosynthetic pathways.
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At this point, an enzyme called HMG CoA reductase catalyzes the committed step in the pathway, turning HMG CoA into mevalonic acid. From there, a series of enzymes converts mevalonic acid into squalene, a linear intermediate which folds to yield the four ringed structure of cholesterol. Almost all cholesterol synthesis occurs in the liver, mainly because the liver is also the site of bile acid production. In adults, the liver produces enough cholesterol to meet the body's needs. Dietary cholesterol comes in the form of dairy products, eggs, red meat, and
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