The steroids’ structure is the following: one steroid, which has lipid nature contains four carbon atoms rings. Their action in our body is hormonal, they act as “chemical messengers” and “tell” cells what to do. Read this article to know more about structure and function of steroids. Besides, you will learn the advantages of cholesterol.
What are steroids?
There are probably many thoughts, which appear in your mind when you think of steroids. For example, you imagine the process of building up huge muscles and athletes who take illegal anabolic steroids to enhance this process. Perhaps, the last thing you will think about is that our body is a steroid producer. It may sound fantastic but each day natural steroids are produced in both male and female body. This process is very sustainable. Let’s tell you about “natural” steroids, which are produced by our body, their functions and structure.
Steroid chemical structure
What is structure? According to encyclopedias, it is the arrangement of and relations between the parts/elements of something complex.
It is possible to define steroids by analyzing chemical structure of them. Steroids have an organic origin. Structure of steroids is rather difficult: four carbon rings, three of which are 6-sided and the one is 5-sided.
Nevertheless, the functional groups of different steroids are not the same. It is to be recalled that atom groups, located together with certain behavior are functional groups. When a connection between various functional groups and steroid rings with basic structure is made, we obtain steroids, which function in different ways. This issue will also be discussed here.
Firstly, it should be noted that steroids have organic nature; subsequently they contain carbon as a basic element of them. Carbohydrates, lipids and proteins are classical organic compounds. IN reality, steroids belong to the group of lipids. It is a bit strange, because the basic steroids’ structure and the structure of triglycerides, phospholipids and other lipids are not the same. The main aspects, which proves that steroids are among lipids, is that the main components of them are carbon and atoms of hydrogen. Besides, steroids are water-insoluble due to their molecular structure.
Some functions of steroids
There are several functions of steroids in human’s body. First of all, they have hormonal activity. Secondly, they influence your growth as well as are responsible for the sexual development. As you know, male testes and female ovaries produce main male and female sexual steroid hormones. There are testosterone, which is secreted by male sex gland and estrogen, which manage female sexual development.
Besides, adrenal cortex also produces hormone with steroid nature, which is aimed at regulating of carbohydrate metabolism and is responsible for maintaining the immune system and protecting it from inflammation. Other types of steroids, for example, progesterone also have important functions. Thus, progesterone
is extremely important for the female reproductive system and, in particular, for the bearing of the child. Together with other hormones, it is responsible for women’s health, prepares the body for conceiving and bearing a child, affects the metabolism and the figure of a woman. It is also important for the male body. It is used for synthesis of testosterone, cortisol, neurosteroids and other important hormones, it also takes part in the central nervous system.
The importance of cholesterol
Cholesterol is the common precursor of all steroid hormones. In accordance with this, the exchange of cholesterol in tissues secreting steroids is extremely important for the regulation of steroid hormone biosynthesis.
For many years, it has been thought that all or most of the cholesterol used for steroidogenesis is synthesized from acetate in cells that produce steroids. Although cholesterol synthesis does occur in these cells, plasma lipoproteins that are synthesized in the liver are most probably the main source of cholesterol used for steroidogenesis.
The relative importance of different classes of lipoproteins as sources of cholesterol for steroidogenesis depends on animal species, but in humans, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) play the most important role.
Free cholesterol in steroid-producing cells, regardless of whether it originated from lipoproteins or synthesized in a cell, can be immediately used for steroidogenesis or converted to cholesterol esters. Cells that synthesize steroid hormones contain a large number of cholesterol esters in structures known as lipid droplets. Cholesterol esters are the main form of cholesterol stores and must undergo hydrolysis to free cholesterol, which is used in steroidogenesis. The rate of hydrolysis of cholesterol esters, as well as the capture and degradation of lipoproteins, are under the regulating influence of hormones. Thus, the delivery of free cholesterol to steroid-producing cells can be closely coordinated with the overall activity of steroidogenesis processes.
Therefore, cholesterol isn’t bad for our body. It can be harmful only if it is elevated.