Chromium and Membrane Cholesterol
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...
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