The eicosanoid family comprises a number of biologically active lipid mediators involved in the regulation of inflammation and cancer cell growth. Eicosanoid biosynthesis is usually initiated by the release of arachidonic acid (AA) from membrane phospholipids in response to the interaction of a phospholipase-A2 (PLA2) stimulus with a receptor on the cell membrane. The free released AA is subsequently metabolized by three major enzymatic pathways: the cyclooxygenase (COX), lipoxygenase (LO) and cytochrome P450-dependent pathways. The COX pathway transforms AA into prostaglandins (PGs) and is of particular clinical relevance because it is the main target for non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Of interest, COX-2, one of the two COX isoforms, is primarily involved in inflammation and cancer and for this reason selective COX-2 inhibitors have been developed. The efficacy of these compounds is similar to that of traditional NSAIDs but with a lower risk of gastrointestinal toxicity and bleeding. On the other hand, emerging information has recognized the role of other AA metabolites derived from the 5-LO pathway, the leukotrienes (LTs), in mediating and maintaining inflammation. Consequently, drugs able to inhibit 5-LO are now included among the effective pharmacological therapies, especially in asthma and allergic inflammation. Moreover, COX-2 and 5-LO pathways appear to act in parallel in the regulation of cell proliferation and neo-angiogenesis and both COX-2 and 5-LO inhibitors are being investigated as potential anticancer drugs. This review article will update the progress achieved in the knowledge of COX-2 and 5-LO and discuss the emerging approaches for the pharmacological modulation of these pathways.
Keywords: thromboxane (TX), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs)., inflammation, Cancer cell, 5S-hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid
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