, Volume 44, Issue 19 Supplement, pp 1-7
Date: 16 Jan 2009

The enteropathy of prostaglandin deficiency

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Small intestinal ulcers are frequent complications of therapy with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We present here a genetic deficiency of eicosanoid biosynthesis that illuminates the mechanism of NSAID-induced ulcers of the small intestine.


Eicosanoids and metabolites were measured by isotope dilution with mass spectrometry. cDNA was obtained by reverse transcription and sequenced following amplification with RT-PCR.


We investigated the cause of chronic recurrent small intestinal ulcers, small bowel perforations, and gastrointestinal blood loss in a 45-year-old man who was not taking any cyclooxygenase inhibitor. Prostaglandin metabolites in urine were significantly depressed. Serum thromboxane B2 (TxB2) production was 4.6% of normal controls (P < 0.006), and serum 12-HETE was 1.3% of controls (P < 0.005). Optical platelet aggregation with simultaneous monitoring of ATP release demonstrated absent granule secretion in response to ADP and a blunted aggregation response to ADP and collagen, but normal response to arachidonic acid (AA). LTB4 biosynthesis by ionophore-activated leukocytes was only 3% of controls, and urinary LTE4 was undetectable. These findings suggested deficient AA release from membrane phospholipids by cytosolic phospholipase A2-α (cPLA2-α), which regulates cyclooxygenase- and lipoxygenase-mediated eicosanoid production by catalyzing the release of their substrate, AA. Sequencing of cPLA2cDNA demonstrated two heterozygous nonsynonymous single-base-pair mutations: Ser111Pro (S111P) and Arg485His (R485H), as well as a known single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), Lys651Arg (K651R).


Characterization of this cPLA2-α deficiency provides support for the importance of prostaglandins in protecting small intestinal integrity and indicates that loss of prostaglandin biosynthesis is sufficient to produce small intestinal ulcers.

This article is based on a study first reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation 2008;118:2121–31