n-3 Fatty Acids and Hydroperoxide Activation of Fatty Acid Oxygenases

  • William E. M. Lands
  • Robert B. Pendleton
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 49)


The eicosanoids are extremely potent regulators of cellular and tissue function which are derived from the twenty-carbon fatty acid, arachidonate (20:4n-6). There are two large classes of eicosanoids, the prostaglandins and the leukotrienes (Figure 1). The first committed step in the biosynthesis of each class is catalyzed by a fatty acid oxygenase that produces a hydroperoxide product and that requires a hydroperoxide activator. Thus each oxygenase constitutes an amplifier of hydroperoxide concentration within the cell in which it functions. The amplification process may represent an important molecular tactic for intercellular signaling; an explosive increase in the rate of eicosanoid synthesis is probably necessary to overcome the prevailing rapid rate of eicosanoid inactivation found in most cells. However, a continued excessive rate of eicosanoid synthesis is associated with a variety of pathophysiological situations that are often treated with pharmacological agents that can decrease the biosynthetic rate, such as the steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. As long as the rate of metabolic inactivation tends to exceed the rate of biosynthesis, the eicosanoids that are formed do not accumulate to a concentration sufficient to interfere with the behavior of the surrounding cells.


Baseline Drift Excessive Rate Prostaglandin Biosynthesis Oxygenase Activity Eicosanoid Synthesis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. M. Lands
    • 1
  • Robert B. Pendleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological ChemistryUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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