The early steps in the biosynthesis of steroids of both plants and animals are the same, except that in plants lanosterol is replaced by the related compound cycloartenol, which contains a three-membered ring (C9, C10, C19) in lieu of the nuclear double bond of lanosterol. The side chains of the phytosterols, such as stigmasterol, and of the sterol ergosterol of yeasts and other fungi contain extra carbon atoms that are incorporated in reactions involving S -adenosylmethionine, which donates methyl groups in numerous biological processes. Although most plant tissues contain only traces of cholesterol, this sterol is the biogenetic precursor of such important plant steroids as the sapogenins , glycosides , and alkaloids . Because pregnane derivatives are intermediates in some of these transformations, plants and animals appear to have important features of steroid metabolism in common.
Laws and Penalties: Concerns over growing illegal AAS abuse by teenagers, and many of the just discussed long-term effects, led Congress in 1991 to place the whole AAS class of drugs into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under this legislation, AAS are defined as any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to T (other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth. The possession or sale of AAS without a valid prescription is illegal. Since 1991, simple possession of illegally obtained AAS carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if this is an individual’s first drug offense. The maximum penalty for trafficking (selling or possessing enough to be suspected of selling) is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if this is the individual’s first felony drug offense. If this is the second felony drug offense, the maximum period of imprisonment and the maximum fine both double. While the above listed penalties are for federal offenses, individual states have also implemented fines and penalties for illegal use of AAS. State executive offices have also recognized the seriousness of AAS abuse and other drugs of abuse in schools. For example, the State of Virginia enacted a law that will allow student drug testing as a legitimate school drug prevention program (48, 49).