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Thursday 21 May 2009

Definition: Triterpenes are terpenes consisting of six isoprene units and have the molecular formula C30H48.

The linear triterpene squalene, the major constituent of shark liver oil, is derived from the reductive coupling of two molecules of farnesyl pyrophosphate.

Squalene is then processed biosynthetically to generate either lanosterol or cycloartenol, the structural precursors to all the steroids.

The pentacyclic triterpenes can be classified into lupane, oleanane or ursane groups. A notable pentacyclic triterpene is Boswellic acid.

Animal- and plant-derived triterpenes exist, such as:
- squalene
- ambrein (a tricyclic triterpene alcohol)
- ganoderic acid (quad cyclic)

Triterpenoids are thought of as modified triterpenes, such as lanosterol.

See also

- triterpenoids
- squalene