7-Ketocholesterol (7KC) is a toxic oxysterol that is associated with many diseases and disabilities of aging, as well as several orphan diseases. 7KC is the most common product of a reaction between cholesterol and oxygen radicals and is the most concentrated oxysterol found in the blood and arterial plaques of coronary artery disease patients as well as various other disease tissues and cell types. Unlike cholesterol, 7KC consistently shows cytotoxicity to cells and its physiological function in humans or other complex organisms is unknown. Oxysterols, particularly 7KC, have also been shown to diffuse through membranes where they affect receptor and enzymatic function. Here, we will explore the known and proposed mechanisms of pathologies that are associated with 7KC, as well speculate about the future of 7KC as a diagnostic and therapeutic target in medicine.
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