Login
Copyright

Steroids: Structure & Function

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Proteins I: Structure and Function

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:05 Steroids
  • 0:41 Structure
  • 1:52 Function
  • 2:45 Cholesterol
  • 4:20 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Steroids are a type of lipid that contains four rings of carbon atoms. Steroids can act as hormones in the body. In this lesson, you will learn about the different structures and functions of steroids, including the important role of a steroid called cholesterol.

Steroids

What do you think of when you think of steroids? You may think of a muscle-bound body builder who takes anabolic steroids to beef-up. Or, your mind might conjure up an image of the professional athlete who got in trouble for using synthetic steroids to unfairly enhance his athletic performance.

Believe it or not, regardless of whether you are male or female, your body produces natural steroids every day. In fact, they are necessary to sustain life. In this lesson, you will learn about the structure and function of 'natural' steroids found within your body.

Structure

Steroids have three 6-sided carbon rings and one 5-sided carbon ring.
Steroid Structure

Steroids can be defined by their chemical structure. We see that steroids are organic compounds that contain four rings of carbon atoms. Specifically, we see that all steroids have three 6-sided carbon rings and one 5-sided carbon ring.

However, different steroids have different functional groups attached. We recall that functional groups are groups of atoms that we often find together that have a specific behavior. When we attach different functional groups to the basic steroid rings, we get steroids with different functions. We will talk about the different functions of steroids later in this lesson.

But first, we mentioned that steroids are organic compounds, and we know that organic compounds must contain carbon. Therefore, organic compounds are things like carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. In fact, steroids are classified under the lipid group. This is somewhat interesting because we see that the basic structure of a steroid differs quite a bit from that of other lipids such as triglycerides or phospholipids. However, steroids still fit this category because, like other fats, steroids are made largely of carbon and hydrogen atoms, and they are insoluble in water.

Function

The ovaries produce estrogen, and the testes produce testosterone.
Ovaries and Testes

We see that steroids in the body can act as hormones, and, therefore, their presence can impact a number of things from your growth to your sexual development. For example, steroid hormones are secreted by the testes and ovaries. From the testes, we see testosterone, which is the male sex hormone that guides male sexual development. From the ovaries, we see estrogen, which is the female sex hormone that guides female sexual development.

Steroid hormones are also produced by the adrenal cortex, which is the outer portion of your adrenal gland that you can find sitting on top of your kidneys. Cortisol is one important adrenal cortex steroid hormone, and it regulates carbohydrate metabolism and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Aldosterone is another steroid hormone that comes from the adrenal cortex. It helps maintain blood pressure and regulate the salt and water balance in your body.

Cholesterol

So, we see that steroid hormones control many vital functions in your body. Of course, we wouldn't have these or any steroids if we did not have cholesterol. It could be said that the most important steroid molecule in your body is cholesterol, because cholesterol is the parent compound from which steroids are derived. It is basically the precursor for steroid hormones and other steroids. We see by looking at the structure of cholesterol that it is a steroid, because it has the four rings of carbon atoms. Attached to the rings we see a hydrocarbon tail and a hydroxyl group. Cholesterol is a 27-carbon steroid and has a molecular formula of C27H45OH.

Cholesterol is a 27-carbon steroid.
Cholesterol Is an Important Steroid

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support