Prostaglandins and Leukotrienes

Prostaglandins have a central role in the regulation of platelet aggregation and vascular tone. In this regard, two of the major prostaglandins derived from AA are thromboxane A2, produced in platelets, and prostacyclin I2, produced in endothelial cells. Thromboxane A2 promotes platelet aggregation and blood vessel constriction, while prostacyclin I2 has the opposite effects. An increase in availability of EPA can decrease platelet thromboxane A2 and increase thromboxane A3, the latter having considerably less physiological activity. EPA supplementation also stimulates formation of prostacyclin I3, while prostacyclin I2 is unaffected. Prostacyclin I3 and prostacyclin I2 are equipotent in their biological activity. The net result following intake of n-3 fatty acids is a shift in the thromboxane/prostacyclin balance toward a reduced prothrombotic state.

Leukotriene B4 is a potent inflammatory mediator produced by neutrophils from 20:4n-6 at the site of injury. Leukotriene B4 is also a powerful chemotac-tic factor responsible for attracting neutrophils to the site of injury. Leukotriene B5, which is produced from EPA, has significantly lower biological activity. Therefore an increased availability of EPA has the potential to reduce inflammation.

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