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).
Steroid isolation , depending on context, is the isolation of chemical matter required for chemical structure elucidation, derivitzation or degradation chemistry, biological testing, and other research needs (generally milligrams to grams, but often more  or the isolation of "analytical quantities" of the substance of interest (where the focus is on identifying and quantifying the substance (for example, in biological tissue or fluid). The amount isolated depends on the analytical method, but is generally less than one microgram.  [ page needed ] The methods of isolation to achieve the two scales of product are distinct, but include extraction , precipitation, adsorption , chromatography , and crystallization . In both cases, the isolated substance is purified to chemical homogeneity; combined separation and analytical methods, such as LC-MS , are chosen to be "orthogonal"—achieving their separations based on distinct modes of interaction between substance and isolating matrix—to detect a single species in the pure sample. Structure determination refers to the methods to determine the chemical structure of an isolated pure steroid, using an evolving array of chemical and physical methods which have included NMR and small-molecule crystallography .  : 10–19 Methods of analysis overlap both of the above areas, emphasizing analytical methods to determining if a steroid is present in a mixture and determining its quantity.