Studies of eicosanoid biology have provided great insight into normal physiology and the pathogenesis of disease. The rapidly responsive, tissue-localized nature of eicosanoid activities make them ideal targets for therapeutic intervention, and it is therefore easy to see why modulators of eicosanoid synthesis, such as aspirin, are among the oldest known therapeutics. Because eicosanoids play central roles in a wide range of disease states, inhibitors of eicosanoid synthesis can achieve a broad spectrum of activity. This is clearly demonstrated by the use of NSAIDs for conditions as diverse as pain relief, prevention of cardiovascular disease, and inhibition of tumor formation. In the future, the development of specific agonists and antagonists for eicosanoid receptors will yield further insight into the relevance of various pathways to disease states and provide new, more specific avenues for therapy.


Baker, R. R. (1990). The eicosanoids: A historical review. Clin. Biochem. 23, 455-458. A concise review of early studies of eicosanoid biology.

Bishop-Bailey, D., and Wray, J. (2003). Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors: A critical review on endogenous pathways for ligand generation. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 71, 1-22. A detailed analysis of multiple signaling networks containing eicosanoids.

Funk, C. D. (2001). Prostaglandins, and leukotrienes: Advances in eicosanoid biology. Science 294, 1871-1875. Basic current review of eicosanoid biology and potential for targeted therapies.

Other Useful References

Kudo, I., and Murakami, M. (2003). Regulatory functions of prostaglandin

E2 synthases. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. 525, 103-106. Nie, D., and Honn, K. V. (2002). Cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and tumor angiogenesis. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 59, 799-807. Thun, M. J., Henley, S. J., and Patrono, C. (2002). Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs as anticancer agents: Mechanistic, pharmacologic, and clinical issues. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 94, 4-20.

Capsule Biography

Monica M. Bertagnolli is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her primary research interest is the impact of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on early tumorigenesis.

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