Central nervous system: Cholesterol turnover, brain development and neurodegeneration

John M. Dietschy

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

225 Scopus citations


The average amount of cholesterol in the whole animal equals approximately 2100 mg/kg body weight, and 15% and 23% of this sterol in the mouse and human, respectively, is found in the central nervous system. There is no detectable uptake across the blood-brain barrier of cholesterol carried in lipoproteins in the plasma, even in the newborn. However, high rates of de novo cholesterol synthesis in the glia and neurons provide the sterol necessary for early brain development. Once a stable brain size is achieved in the adult, cholesterol synthesis continues, albeit at a much lower rate, and this synthesis is just balanced by the excretion of an equal amount of sterol, either as 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol or, presumably, as cholesterol itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


  • 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol
  • 27-hydroxycholesterol
  • ATP-binding cassette transporters
  • Apolipoprotein E
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Cerebellum
  • Niemann-Pick type C
  • Oxysterols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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