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white, solid substance present in body tissues, 1894, earlier cholesterin, from French cholestrine (Chevreul, 1827), from Greek khole "bile" (see cholera) + steros "solid, stiff" (see sterility). So called because originally found in gallstones (Conradi, 1775). The name was changed to the modern form (with chemical suffix -ol, denoting an alcohol) after the compound was discovered to be a secondary alcohol.
cholesterol cho·les·ter·ol (kə-lěs'tə-rôl', -rōl')
A white crystalline substance found in animal tissues and various foods, normally synthesized by the liver and important as a constituent of cell membranes and a precursor to steroid hormones. Its level in the bloodstream can influence the pathogenesis of certain conditions, such as the development of atherosclerotic plaque and coronary artery disease.
A sterol found widely in animal and plant tissues. It is a main component of blood plasma and cell membranes, and it is an important precursor of many steroid hormones (such as the estrogens, testosterone, and cortisol), vitamin D2, and bile acids. In vertebrates, cholesterol is manufactured by the liver or absorbed from food in the intestine. Higher than normal amounts of cholesterol in the blood are associated with higher risk for developing coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. Chemical formula: C27H46O. See also high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein.
A white soapy substance found in the tissues of the body and in certain foods, such as animal fats, oils, and egg yolks. Cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and atherosclerosis. (It collects on the walls of arteries and interferes with the flow of blood.) High levels of cholesterol in the blood are considered to be unhealthy. (See saturated fats, HDL, and LDL.)