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Well-established cell culture models were combined with new analytical methods to assess the effects of small molecules on the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. The analytical protocol, which is based on sterol derivation with the dienolphile PTAD, was found to be reliable for the analysis of 7-DHC and desmosterol. The PTAD method was applied to the screening of a small library of pharmacologically active substances, and the effect of compounds on the cholesterol pathway was determined. Of some 727 compounds, over 30 compounds decreased 7-DHC in Dhcr7-deficient Neuro2a cells. The examination of chemical structures of active molecules in the screen grouped the compounds into distinct categories. In addition to statins, our screen found that SERMs, antifungals, and several antipsychotic medications reduced levels of 7-DHC. The activities of selected compounds were verified in human fibroblasts derived from Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) patients and linked to specific transformations in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway.


Zeljka Korade, Hye-Young H Kim, Keri A Tallman, Wei Liu, Katalin Koczok, Istvan Balogh, Libin Xu, Karoly Mirnics, Ned A Porter. The Effect of Small Molecules on Sterol Homeostasis: Measuring 7-Dehydrocholesterol in Dhcr7-Deficient Neuro2a Cells and Human Fibroblasts. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 2016 Feb 11;59(3):1102-15

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PMID: 26789657

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