Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Academic Editor: David Hui
The fetus grows at a rate unparalleled by that during any other stage of life. To maintain its rapid growth rate, the fetus requires a significant amount of cholesterol and fatty acids. For structural purposes alone, the fetus requires 1.5 mg of cholesterol per gram of tissue, not including the brain. Cholesterol is also required as a precursor for various steroidogenic hormones that are critical to normal development, such as estrogen, and for metabolic regulators, such as oxysterols. More recently, it was found that cholesterol is necessary for the activation of Sonic hedgehog (Shh) (1), an organizer involved in early spatial patterning of the forebrain (2). Fatty acids are needed as structural components of tissues, as a source of energy, and if metabolic regulation in the fetus is similar to that in the adult, as activators of transcription factors. The fetus, as in any tissue, acquires its cholesterol and fatty acids from two different sources, endogenous and exogenous.