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About Steroids



Well-known member
Dec 2, 2022
Steroids are chemical compounds with a unique molecular structure with four interconnected rings. Essential components of cell membranes, steroids modify membrane fluidity, and steroids also serve as signaling chemicals. In nature, hundreds of different steroids may be discovered in other organisms. Sterols like lanosterol (found in opisthokonts) and cycloartenol are the building blocks from which all steroids are created inside cells (plants). The triterpene squalene is cyclized to produce lanosterol and cycloartenol.

Standard steroid core structures include 17 carbon atoms joined in 4 "fused" rings (rings A, B, and C in the first figure, and ring D in the second) (the D ring). The oxidation state of the rings and the functional groups connected to this four-ring core determine the variety of steroids. A hydroxyl group at position three and a cholestane backbone define steroids, which are what sterols are. For example, the ring structure of steroids may be altered more dramatically by severing one of the rings. Secosteroids, like vitamin D3, are made by Cutting Ring B.

Some examples include the anti-inflammatory medication dexamethasone and the steroid hormones estradiol and testosterone.

Fungal steroids​

Ergosterols are a kind of fungal steroid that helps keep the membrane of fungal cells in one piece. This knowledge is used by many antifungal medications, including amphotericin B and azole antifungals, to eradicate dangerous yeasts. Fungi may acquire resistance to ergosterol-targeted drugs by changing the amount of ergosterol in their cell membranes (e.g., by developing loss-of-function mutations in the enzymes ERG3 or ERG6, resulting in ergosterol depletion) or by creating mutations that lower the ergosterol content.

Ergosterol is similar to cholesterol; phytosterols are also present in animal and human cell membranes.

Ergosterol is found in all mushrooms in quantities ranging from tens to hundreds of milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight. Fungi need oxygen because it is used in the production of ergosterol.

The vitamin D in mushrooms comes from ergosterol, which is transformed into provitamin D2 when exposed to UV radiation.

Vitamin D2 may be synthesized from provitamin D2.

However, not all fungi use ergosterol in their cellular membranes, which has significant clinical consequences for species like the deadly fungus Pneumocystis jiroveci (Because of how many antifungal medications work). Other important steroids are ergosta-5,7,22,24(28)-tetraen-3-ol, zymosterol, and lanosterol in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cell membranes of S. cerevisiae are lipidated with 5,6-dihydroergosterol rather than ergosterol.
Fungidal steroids

Animal steroids​

Steroids found in animals come from insects and vertebrates, with ecdysteroids like ecdysone being produced by insects (controlling molting in some species). The steroid hormones and cholesterol are both structural components of cell membranes; cholesterol is also a significant component of plaque and has a role in determining the fluidity of cell membranes (implicated in atherosclerosis). The steroid hormones include:

  • Sex hormone; Reproduction-promoting and sex-differentiating hormones. Androgens, estrogens, and progestins are all examples.

  • Corticosteroids, Glucocorticoids (which affect many aspects of metabolism and immunological function), and mineralocorticoids are two natural product families that fall under the umbrella term "corticosteroids" (which help maintain blood volume and control renal excretion of electrolytes)

  • Anabolic steroids; Natural and manufactured steroids stimulate androgen receptors and promote muscle and bone production. The word "steroids" is often used to refer to anabolic steroids.

Plant steroids​

Solanaceae and Melanthiaceae (especially the genus Veratrum) steroidal alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, phytosterols, and brassinosteroids are all examples of plant steroids (which include several plant hormones).


By function​

Here are some of the most well-known steroid hormones and the many roles to which they contribute:

  • Corticosteroids:
    • Glucocorticoids:
      • Cortisol, a kind of glucocorticoid used to inhibit the immune system
    • Mineralocorticoids:
      • Aldosterone is a mineralocorticoid that controls blood pressure by maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Sex steroids:
    • Progestogens:
      • Progesterone controls the uterine endometrium's monthly cycle and keeps a pregnancy going
    • Androgens:
      • Testosterone, which aids in the formation and maintenance of male auxiliary sex features
    • Estrogens:
      • Estradiol helps women develop and keep their 'feminine traits.'

In addition to the previously mentioned steroid types, there are also:

  • Examples of neurosteroids are DHEA and allopregnanolone.

  • Taurocholic acid, a bile acid

  • Neuromuscular blocking drugs that are derived from amino acids, such as pancuronium bromide

  • Anti-androgen steroids, most of which are synthetic, include cyproterone acetate.

  • Exogenous inhibitors of steroidogenesis include the hormone alfatradiol.

  • Sterols in membranes include cholesterol, ergosterol, and several phytosterols.

  • Cardenolides/cardiac glycosides and steroidal saponins are two examples of toxins.

Further, the following group of open-ring steroids (secosteroids):

  • Vitamin D has many variations, including ergocalciferol, cholecalciferol, and calcitriol.

Biological Significance​

Both steroids and phospholipids are essential components of cell membranes, and steroids and their metabolites often serve as signaling molecules (the most prominent examples being steroid hormones). Cholesterol and other steroid molecules reduce membrane permeability. Anabolic steroids are lipids; both are super-concentrated sources of energy. However, they are seldom used as fuel since they are primarily digested and expelled by mammals.

Malignancies like prostate cancer rely on steroid synthesis on the inside and outside of the tumor to foster cancer cell aggressiveness, making steroids a crucial factor in various illnesses.

Biosynthesis and Metabolism​

Many steroids in animals, fungi, and plants are derived from lanosterol (in animals and fungi; see examples above) or cycloartenol (in other eukaryotes). The cyclization of the triterpenoid squalene produces both lanosterol and cycloartenol. All other steroids are derived from lanosterol and cycloartenol, frequently referred to as protosterols.

The production of steroids from their essential components is an anabolic process. Animals (in contrast to many other creatures) follow a distinct metabolic route, making this pathway a frequent target of antibiotics and other anti-infective medications. Statins, medicines used to decrease cholesterol levels, also work on the human body to alter the steroid metabolic process. In humans and other animals, dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) and isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) is synthesized from acetyl-CoA through the mevalonate route, the same process used to synthesize steroids (IPP). I need a more reliable source to say that.

The linear triterpenoid squalene is formed when DMAPP and IPP conjugate generate farnesyl diphosphate (FPP), which undergoes further conjugation reactions. Squalene synthase is an enzyme from the squalene/phytoene synthase family that catalyzes the first step in squalene production. Squalene undergoes further alteration into other steroids by epoxidation and cyclization to produce lanosterol (steroidogenesis). Epoxidized squalene (oxidosqualene) is cyclized to cycloartenol in most other eukaryotes.

Catabolism and Excretion​

Enzymes like CYP3A4 of the cytochrome P450 oxidase family are responsible for most steroid oxidation. These processes oxygenate the steroid ring, paving the way for further digestion of the cholesterol into bile acids by additional enzymes. To get rid of them, the liver produces bile to carry the acids away. Whenever steroids are abundant in the blood, the steroid receptor PXR may boost the production of the oxidase gene. Because they lack a side chain as cholesterol and bile acids do, steroid hormones are often hydroxylated at different ring locations or oxidized at 17 places before being conjugated with sulfate or glucuronic acid and discharged in the urine.

Chemical Synthesis​

C-19 steroids, C-22 steroids, and 17-ketosteroids are produced when the side chains of phytosterols are broken down by microorganisms (i.e., precursors to adrenocortical hormones and contraceptives). The addition and alteration of functional groups are crucial to producing this chemical class's vast array of drugs. Standard methods of organic synthesis and biotransformation are used for these alterations.



Cholesterol, phytosterols, and sapogenins are common in the semi-synthesis of steroid precursors. In the early days of the synthetic steroid pharmaceutical business, Syntex, a corporation engaged in the Mexican barbasco trade, utilized Dioscorea Mexicana to manufacture sapogenin diosgenin.

Total synthesis​

Only by total synthesis from petrochemicals, some steroidal hormones may be produced at a reasonable cost (e.g., 13-alkyl steroids). The drug Norgestrel, for instance, is generated from the petrochemical methoxy-1-tetralone, a byproduct of the phenolic chemical methanol.
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