Leukotrienes and lipoxins: structures, biosynthesis, and biological effects

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Science  04 Sep 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4819, pp. 1171-1176
DOI: 10.1126/science.2820055


Arachidonic acid is released from membrane phospholipids upon cell stimulation (for example, by immune complexes and calcium ionophores) and converted to leukotrienes by a 5-lipoxygenase that also has leukotriene A4 synthetase activity. Leukotriene A4, an unstable epoxide, is hydrolyzed to leukotriene B4 or conjugated with glutathione to yield leukotriene C4 and its metabolites, leukotriene D4 and leukotriene E4. The leukotrienes participate in host defense reactions and pathophysiological conditions such as immediate hypersensitivity and inflammation. Recent studies also suggest a neuroendocrine role for leukotriene C4 in luteinizing hormone secretion. Lipoxins are formed by the action of 5- and 15-lipoxygenases on arachidonic acid. Lipoxin A causes contraction of guinea pig lung strips and dilation of the microvasculature. Both lipoxin A and B inhibit natural killer cell cytotoxicity. Thus, the multiple interaction of lipoxygenases generates compounds that can regulate specific cellular responses of importance in inflammation and immunity.

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