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Janus-faced molecule

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Janus-faced molecule

A Janus molecule (or Janus-faced molecule) is a molecule which can represent both beneficial and toxic effects. Examples are nitrous oxide[1] and cholesterol.[2] In the case of cholesterol, the property that makes cholesterol useful in cell membranes, namely its absolute insolubility in water, also makes it lethal. When cholesterol accumulates in the wrong place, for example within the wall of an artery, it cannot be readily mobilized, and its presence eventually leads to the development of an atherosclerotic plaque.

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