Exploring the Interactions of Cholesterol

1. Look at the model of cholesterol below and determine if it is mostly a polar or non-polar molecule.

2. Cholesterol is a common health concern because it can collect in your arteries and cause reduced blood flow.  Compare the structure of water (a major component of blood) and cholesterol.  Why would the cholesterol collect in your arteries?

3. Cholesterol can gather in two ways - high density and low density.  What do you think is the difference between these two?


4. High density cholesterol can actually be useful when it makes its way to the cells and becomes part of the cell membrane.  The molecule below is a phospholipid.  It has a phosphate end and two hydrocarbon tails.  Print off a copy of this molecule.  Label the ends as phosphate or hydrocarbon, and then label each end as polar or non-polar. 

5. Examine the structure of cholesterol and the phospholipid and explain why the two would "like" to be next to each other.  Draw a sketch of how you think the two molecules would orient themselves next to each other.

Created by: Caitlin Sullivan         Montgomery Blair High School         6/2003

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