Role of Eicosanoids in the Pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

  • Brendan J. R. Whittle
  • Nigel K. Boughton-Smith
  • Christopher J. Hawkey
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 95)


The eicosanoids are metabolites of the essential fatty acid arachidonic acid formed via the cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase enzyme pathways. The cyclo-oxygenase metabolites characterized as prostanoids have been implicated in the aetiology of inflammatory bowel diseases. Several of these long-chain unsaturated fatty acids, notably prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), have potent pro-inflammatory properties and can alter intestinal motility, fluid secretion and electrolyte transport1. These arachidonate metabolites could thus be involved in inflammatory diseases of the intestine and underlie the associated diarrhoea in diseases such as ulcerative colitis. In patients with active ulcerative colitis, highe levels of prostaglandin-like material could be detected in the stols2, with increased cyclo-oxygenase activity in vitro in rectal biopsies3. In other studies using radioimmunoassay techniques, elevated accumulation of PGE2 as well as thromboxane B2 (TXB2) and the prostacyclin breakdown product, 6-4,ox5o-PGF1 α in 24 h cultures of rectal mucosa biopsies were determined while studies in vivo using rectal dialysis procedures likewise indicated enhanced formation of PGE2 in patients with active ulcerative colitis6.


Arachidonic Acid Ulcerative Colitis Active Ulcerative Colitis Lipoxygenase Product Lipoxygenase Enzyme 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brendan J. R. Whittle
    • 1
  • Nigel K. Boughton-Smith
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Hawkey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Prostaglandin ResearchWellcome Research Laboratories, Langley CourtBeckenhamKentUK
  2. 2.Department of TherapeuticsUniversity Hospital NottinghamUK

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