The MEP pathway starts with the condensation of pyruvate and D-glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate to 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP or DOXP). The key isomers DMAPP and IPP are subsequently formed via a series of enzymatic steps starting with the conversion of DXP to 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP). Enzymes of this MEP pathway are attractive targets for the development of drugs targeting infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, because this pathway occurs in pathogenic prokaryotes but is absent in human metabolic pathways.
Measurements of levels of 17α-OHP are useful in the evaluation of patients with suspected congenital adrenal hyperplasia as the typical enzymes that are defective, namely 21-hydroxylase and 11β-hydroxylase , lead to a build-up of 17α-OHP. In contrast, the rare patient with 17α-hydroxylase deficiency will have very low or undetectable levels of 17α-OHP. 17α-OHP levels can also be used to measure contribution of progestational activity of the corpus luteum during pregnancy as progesterone but not 17α-OHP is also contributed by the placenta .
Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances related to male sex hormones (androgens). Although it is illegal in the United States to possess or distribute anabolic steroids for nonmedical use, a "black market" for them exists, and many amateur and professional athletes take them to enhance performance. In many cases, the athletes take doses that are extremely high—perhaps 100 times the doses that might be prescribed for medical use. As a result, they put themselves in real danger of short-term and long-term health problems. Blood testing, as has been used in the Olympic Games, can detect, identify, and quantify the presence of anabolic steroids in the blood of athletes, which can lead to the disqualification of an athlete.