Cholesterol is a neutral lipid that plays an essential role in the maintenance of the integrity of biologic membranes and serves as a precursor in the synthesis of many endocrine mediators. It is also synthesized in mammalian cells via the mevalonate pathway. Recent clinical and basic research evidence has demonstrated a possible linkage of cholesterol to two of the most common diseases of the human prostate: prostatic cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Accumulation of cholesterol within the lipid raft component of the cellular plasma membrane may stimulate signaling pathways that promote prostate tumor growth and progression. In addition, cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins, have exhibited some promising results for these prostatic diseases. This new area of research may provide insight into the underlying cellular mechanisms leading to prostate hyperplasia, prostate cancer progression, and potentially novel targets for therapeutic interventions.
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