Arachidonic acid is one of the most abundant and ubiquitous omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, present in esterified form in the membrane phospholipids of all mammalian cells and released from phospholipids by several phospholipases in response to various activating or inhibitory stimuli. Arachidonic acid is the precursor of a large number of enzymatically- and non-enzymatically-derived, biologically active autacoids, including prostaglandins (PGs), thromboxane (TX) A2, leukotrienes, and epoxyeicosatetraenoic acids (collectively called eicosanoids), endocannabinoids and isoprostanes, respectively. Eicosanoids are local modulators of the physiological functions and pathophysiological roles of blood vessels and platelets. For example, the importance of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1-derived TXA2 from activated platelets in contributing to primary hemostasis and atherothrombosis is demonstrated in animal and human models by the bleeding complications and cardioprotective effects associated with low-dose aspirin, a selective inhibitor of platelet COX-1. The relevance of vascular COX-2-derived prostacyclin (PGI2) in endothelial thromboresistance and atheroprotection is clearly shown by animal and human models and by the adverse cardiovascular effects exerted by COX-2 inhibitors in humans. A vast array of arachidonic acid-transforming enzymes, downstream synthases and isomerases, transmembrane receptors, and specificity in their tissue expression make arachidonic acid metabolism a fine-tuning system of vascular health and disease. Its pharmacological regulation is central in human cardiovascular diseases, as demonstrated by biochemical measurements and intervention trials.
- platelet, aspirin, thromboxane, pge2, arachidonic acid