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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2002 May 1;22(5):734-42.

Oxysterols: friends, foes, or just fellow passengers?

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  • 1Division of Clinical Chemistry, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Huddinge, Sweden. ingemar.bjorkhem@chemlab.hs.sll.se

Abstract

Oxysterols are oxygenated derivatives of cholesterol that are intermediates or even end products in cholesterol excretion pathways. Because of their ability to pass cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier at a faster rate than cholesterol itself, they are also important as transport forms of cholesterol. In addition, oxysterols have been ascribed a number of important roles in connection with cholesterol turnover, atherosclerosis, apoptosis, necrosis, inflammation, immunosuppression, and the development of gallstones. According to current concepts, oxysterols are physiological mediators in connection with a number of cholesterol-induced metabolic effects. However, most of the evidence for this is still indirect, and there is a discrepancy between the documented potent effects of oxysterols under in vitro conditions and the studies demonstrating that they are of physiological importance in vivo. Oxysterol-binding proteins, such as liver X receptor-alpha (a nuclear receptor), do have a regulatory role in cholesterol turnover, but the physiological ligand of the protein has not yet been defined with certainty. Recently developed genetically engineered mouse models with markedly reduced or increased concentration of some of the oxysterols have exhibited surprisingly small changes in cholesterol turnover and homeostasis. The present review is a critical evaluation of the literature on oxysterols, in particular, the in vivo evidence for a role of oxysterols as physiological regulators of cholesterol homeostasis and as atherogenic factors.

PMID:
12006384
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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