A sterol ALCOHOL molecule essential for many functions of cellular METABOLISM and the synthesis (production) of numerous hormones. The LIVER synthesizes the cholesterol that circulates within the body (endogenous) from dietary fats, particularly saturated fats, and the components of dietary cholesterol that enter the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract. The liver can continue to synthesize this molecule as long as it receives the ingredients to do so, under genetically mediated regulation.
Because cholesterol is fat soluble it does not dissolve in the blood, so lipoproteins bind with it to transport it through the bloodstream. Excessive amounts in the bloodstream contribute to cardiovascular conditions such as ATHEROSCLEROSIS and CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE (CAD). Inadequate amounts in the body are uncommon though occur with conditions such as myelogenous LEUKEMIA and AIDS.
Low levels prevents cells from repairing themselves and also the body unable to produce “stress” hormones, such as CORTISOL that are essential for IMMUNE RESPONSE. The liver also uses cholesterol to synthesize BILE, which carries it into the gastrointestinal tract for reabsorption and recycling or elimination.
Various endocrine glands use cholesterol to synthesize STEROID hormones, such as the ADRENAL GLANDS, which produce cortisol, and the gonads (sex glands), which produce TESTOSTERONE and ESTROGENS. Cells throughout the body use cholesterol for cell membrane repair.