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

From ribbon to scroll: Gaining shape control by electrostatics

Northwestern Engineering materials science researchers have uncovered new insights into how electrostatic interactions can be regulated to attain and control scroll-like cochleate structures, which could inform how to capture ...

Shipment tracking for 'fat parcels' in the body

Without fat, nothing works in the body: Fats serve as energy suppliers and important building blocks, including for the envelopes of living cells. Numerous diseases are related to disorders in fat metabolism such as obesity ...

Scientists develop DNA microcapsules with built-in ion channels

A Research group led by Tokyo Tech reports a way of constructing DNA-based microcapsules that hold great promise for the development of new functional materials and devices (Figure 1). They showed that tiny pores on the surface ...


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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