Degradation of Cholesterol

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Chapter: Biochemistry : Cholesterol, Lipoprotein, and Steroid Metabolism

The ring structure of cholesterol cannot be metabolized to CO2 and H2O in humans. Rather, the intact sterol nucleus is eliminated from the body by conversion to bile acids and bile salts.


DEGRADATION OF CHOLESTEROL

The ring structure of cholesterol cannot be metabolized to CO2 and H2O in humans. Rather, the intact sterol nucleus is eliminated from the body by conversion to bile acids and bile salts, a small percentage of which is excreted in the feces, and by secretion of cholesterol into the bile, which transports it to the intestine for elimination. Some of the cholesterol in the intestine is modified by bacteria before excretion. The primary compounds made are the isomers coprostanol and cholestanol, which are reduced derivatives of cholesterol. Together with cholesterol, these compounds make up the bulk of neutral fecal sterols.

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