Sterol regulation of metabolism, homeostasis, and development

Annu Rev Biochem. 2011;80:885-916. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-081308-165917.


Sterol metabolites are critical signaling molecules that regulate metabolism, development, and homeostasis. Oxysterols, bile acids (BAs), and steroids work primarily through cognate sterol-responsive nuclear hormone receptors to control these processes through feed-forward and feedback mechanisms. These signaling pathways are conserved from simple invertebrates to mammals. Indeed, results from various model organisms have yielded fundamental insights into cholesterol and BA homeostasis, lipid and glucose metabolism, protective mechanisms, tissue differentiation, development, reproduction, and even aging. Here, we review how sterols act through evolutionarily ancient mechanisms to control these processes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fasting
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Growth and Development*
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Life Expectancy
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver X Receptors
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sterols / chemistry
  • Sterols / metabolism*


  • Liver X Receptors
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Sterols
  • Glucose