Insect steroid metabolism
- Cite this article as:
- Svoboda, J.A., Thompson, M.J., Robbins, W.E. et al. Lipids (1978) 13: 742. doi:10.1007/BF02533755
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Insects are unable to biosynthesize the steroid nucleus and generally require an exogenous source of sterols. Two salient areas of insect steroid metabolism are the dealkylation and conversion of dietary C28 and C29 plant sterols to cholesterol and other C27 sterols, and the biosynthesis and metabolism of the steroidal insect molting hormones. Certain azasteroids and nonsteroidal amines block this conversion of 24-alkyl sterols to cholesterol and/or disrupt molting and development in insects. These inhibitors have served in charting metabolic pathways for steroids in insects and are serving as models in developing selective pesticidal chemicals and chemotherapeutic agents for use against insects and other invertebrate pests and parasites. The mode of action of some of these inhibitors on molting and development has been investigated in vivo and in vitro. Certain of these inhibitors represent a new class of insect hormonal compounds with a novel mode of action—the disruption of molting hormone metabolism. Research on sterol metabolism in insects provides important information on the comparative biochemistry and physiological functions of steroids in living systems.