Membrane receptors are often modulated by steroids and it is necessary to distinguish the effects of steroids at these receptors from effects occurring at nuclear receptors. Additionally, it may also be mechanistically important to distinguish between direct effects caused by binding of steroids to membrane receptors and indirect effects on membrane receptor function caused by steroid perturbation of the membrane containing the receptor. In this regard, ent-steroids, the mirror images of naturally occurring steroids, are novel tools for distinguishing between these various actions of steroids. The review provides a background for understanding the different actions that can be expected of steroids and ent-steroids in biological systems, references for the preparation of ent-steroids, a short discussion about relevant forms of stereoisomerism and the requirements that need to be fulfilled for the interaction between two molecules to be enantioselective. The review then summarizes results of biophysical, biochemical and pharmacological studies published since 1992 in which ent-steroids have been used to investigate the actions of steroids in membranes and/or receptor-mediated signaling pathways.
- Lipid perturbation