Analysis of Sterols
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it Samuel Johnson, 18 April, 1775* Sterols are among the most studied groups of natural products with interest commencing in the 19th century and running to the present. Investigations have embraced the refinement of separation procedures, the development of new analytical techniques and instrumentation for structure elucidation, the unravelling of biosynthetic mechanisms, the determination of the physiological functions of sterols, and the role they play in health and disease. In the past 20-30 years interest in the medical implications of sterol biochemistry, studies on the sterols of plants, algae and fungi, and the identification of the many unusual sterols from marine organisms have proceeded in parallel and somewhat independently. Although the motiva tion and goals for the various lines of investigation have differed widely the researchers working in each of these areas have contributed a wealth of knowledge to the literature relating to the analysis of sterols and many diverse new sterols have been discovered. We conceived this book as a modest attempt to bring together some of this literature in the hope that it may be helpful to newcomers to sterol research. We had originally intended to produce a 'handbook' outlining in detail the protocols to be followed for sterol extraction, chromatography, NMR analysis, etc. in order to identify the components of a sterol mixture.