Because steroids are lipophilic, they diffuse easily through the cell membranes, and therefore have a very large distribution volume. In their target tissues, steroids are concentrated by an uptake mechanism which relies on their binding to intracellular proteins (or " receptors ", see below). High concentration of steroids are also found in adipose tissue, although this is not a target for hormone action. In the human male, adipose tissue contains aromatase activity, and seems to be the main source of androgen-derived estrogens found in the circulation. But most of the peripheral metabolism occurs in the liver and to some extent in the kidneys, which are the major sites of hormone inactivation and elimination, or catabolism (see below).
The liver also plays an important role in vitamin and mineral ( iron & copper ) storage. About 80% of the body's vitamin A stores are concentrated in fat droplets within the stellate cells of the liver. In pathological conditions like hepatic fibrosis or liver cirrhosis the stellate cells lose vitamin A, transform into fibroblasts or myofibroblasts and begin producing large amounts of collagen and adhesive glycoproteins. * Normal vitamin A reserves are enough to prevent a deficiency for about 10 months. The liver also contains about a year supply of B12. Vitamin D stores equal about 3-4 months. Small amounts of Vitamins E and K and Vitamin C are stored in the liver to facilitate liver functions.
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