Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins

2013 Edition
| Editors: Robert H. Kretsinger, Vladimir N. Uversky, Eugene A. Permyakov

Chromium and Membrane Cholesterol

  • Jeffrey S. Elmendorf
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-1533-6_15



The surface of cells is defined by a membrane termed the plasma membrane. This membrane is composed of several classes of lipids including phospholipids, sphingomyelin, glycosphingolipids, and cholesterol. In this structure, the phospholipids are the primary component arranged into two parallel sheets or leaflets referred to as a bilayer. The other lipids, especially cholesterol, regulate the fluid consistency of the membrane. The rigid steroid ring of cholesterol, in particular, adds integrity to the membrane by partially immobilizing the fatty acid side chains of phospholipids. While this stiffening decreases plasma membrane fluidity, the high concentration of cholesterol in animal cell plasma membranes counters this firming effect by separating the phospholipid fatty acid chains and disrupting their crystallization. Cholesterol also plays an important role in membrane biology by forming specialized microdomains known...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Balk E, Tatsioni A, Lichtenstein A, Lau J, Pittas AG (2007) Effect of chromium supplementation on glucose metabolism and lipids: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Care 30:2154–2163CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Czech M (1980) Insulin action and the regulation of hexose transport. Diabetes 29:399–409PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Evans G, Bowman T (1992) Chromium picolinate increases membrane fluidity and rate of insulin internalization. J Inorg Biochem 46:243–250CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Farag Y, Gaballa M (2011) Diabesity: an overview of a rising epidemic. Nephrol Dial Transplant 26:28–35CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Hoffman N, Elmendorf J (2011) Signaling, cytoskeletal and membrane mechanisms regulating GLUT4 exocytosis. Trends Endocrinol Metab 22(3):110–116CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Parton R, Simons K (2007) The multiple faces of caveolae. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 8:185–194CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Pattar G, Elmendorf J (2010) Dietary chromium supplementation and its role in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. In: Avigliano L, Rossi L (eds) Biochemical aspects of human nutrition. Transworld Research Network, TrivandrumGoogle Scholar
  8. Qatanani M, Lazar M (2007) Mechanisms of obesity-associated insulin resistance: many choices on the menu. Genes Dev 21:1443–1455CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Sealls W, Penque B, Elmendorf J (2011) Evidence that chromium modulates cellular cholesterol homeostasis and ABCA1 functionality impaired by hyperinsulinemia. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 31:1139–1140CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Simonoff M (1984) Chromium deficiency and cardiovascular risk. Cardiovasc Res 18:591–596CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Centers for Diabetes Research, Membrane Biosciences, and Vascular Biology and MedicineIndiana University School of MedicineIndianapolisUSA