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Additional recommended knowledge
Like other steroids, pregnenolone consists of four interconnected cyclic hydrocarbons. It contains ketone and hydroxyl functional groups, two methyl branches, and a double bond at C5, in the B cyclic hydrocarbon ring. Like all steroid hormones, it is hydrophobic. Its esterified version, pregnenolone sulfate, is water-soluble.
Pregnenolone is synthesized from cholesterol. This conversion involves hydroxylation at the side-chain at C20 and C22 positions, with cleavage of the side-chain. The enzyme performing this task is cytochrome P450scc, located in the mitochondria, and controlled by pituitary tropic hormones, such as ACTH, FSH, LH.
Pregnenolone undergoes further steroid metabolism in one of three ways.
Pregnenolone and its sulfate, like dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulfate and progesterone, belong to the group of neurosteroids that are found in high concentrations in certain areas in the brain, and are synthesized there. Neurosteroids affect synaptic functioning, are neuroprotective, and enhance myelinization. Pregnenolone and its sulfate ester are under investigation for their potential to improve cognitive and memory functioning.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pregnenolone". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|