formula: C27H46O; CAS Registry Number: 57-88-5

Essential steroid and indicator for disorders of the lipid metabolism and for the risk of vascular calcification, heart diseases and stroke

Cholesterol is an essential lipid. It belongs to the chemical group of steroids. Cholesterol is a major component of all animal cell membranes where it is involved in membrane stabilisation and the passage of molecules through the membrane. Furthermore, it is the precursor of bile acids and steroid hormones like estradiol, aldosteron, testosteron und cortison. Provitamin D3 (7-Dehydrocholesterol) is an intermediate of the cholesterol biosynthesis.

Cholesterol is both, synthesised in the body and taken up with food. The balance between demand, synthesis and excretion is regulated by various mechanisms.
The vast majority of cholesterol in the body is inside the cells. When transported with the blood (e.g. from intestine to liver and tissues and from tissues to liver) it binds to lipoproteins.

Long-term elevated blood cholesterol levels may result in an intra- und extra-cellular incorporation of cholesterol into the vascular walls. This can eventually lead to progressive alterations of the vessels and calcifications of the vascular walls followed by associated diseases like heart attack and stroke. Thus, the cholesterol level can be used to assess the risk for these diseases.

Elevated cholesterol levels are a result of malnutrition and/or hereditary handicaps. In general, the cholesterol level increases with age. There are, however, also gender-specific differences, i.e. normally lower levels in young woman compared to young men whereas it is the other way around in older people.

The reference value for cholesterol is < 200 mg/dL.


  • Student groups with an even number of female and male students at the age of 20 to 29.

Sampling area

Sampling period

1988 - 2019

Extended information


  • Labor und Diagnose - Indikation und Bewertung von Laborbefunden für die medizinische Diagnostik
    Thomas, Lothar
    Frankfurt am Main: Th-Books Verlag, 2005. 2016, 2005