Related topics: cells · cell membrane · protein · diabetes · heart disease

Lipid droplets as endogenous intracellular microlenses

With the demand in real-time monitoring of endoplasmic variations and rapid detection of extracellular signals, a great number of approaches to bioimaging have been developed. The past few decades have witnessed a dramatic ...

Scientists ID sterol essential for oil accumulation in plants

Scientists seeking to unravel the details of how plants produce and accumulate oil have identified a new essential component of the assembly line. They discovered a particular sterol—a molecule related to cholesterol—that ...

Study sheds light on mechanism of liposome accumulation in tumors

Dmitri Simberg, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, has released the results of a study of the effectiveness of different types of fluorescent labels used to monitor the accumulation ...

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Lipid

Lipids are a broad group of naturally-occurring molecules which includes fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, phospholipids, and others. The main biological functions of lipids include energy storage, as structural components of cell membranes, and as important signaling molecules.

Lipids may be broadly defined as hydrophobic or amphiphilic small molecules; the amphiphilic nature of some lipids allows them to form structures such as vesicles, liposomes, or membranes in an aqueous environment. Biological lipids originate entirely or in part from two distinct types of biochemical subunits or "building blocks": ketoacyl and isoprene groups. Using this approach, lipids may be divided into eight categories: fatty acyls, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, saccharolipids and polyketides (derived from condensation of ketoacyl subunits); and sterol lipids and prenol lipids (derived from condensation of isoprene subunits).

Although the term lipid is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Lipids also encompass molecules such as fatty acids and their derivatives (including tri-, di-, and monoglycerides and phospholipids), as well as other sterol-containing metabolites such as cholesterol. Although humans and other mammals use various biosynthetic pathways to both break down and synthesize lipids, some essential lipids cannot be made this way and must be obtained from the diet.

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