In recent years, significant progress has been made in understanding the involvement of pro-inflammatory lipidic mediators in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases. The most relevant lipidic mediator is arachidonic acid and its metabolites. Arachidonic acid is the precursor for biosynthesis of eicosanoids, potent mediators of inflammation that have been implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse disease processes. Eicosanoids are mainly synthesized by the action of cyclo-oxygenase (prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase) that generates prostaglandins and thromboxane, and 5-lipoxygenase, which leads to the production of leukotrienes. In addition, 12- and 15-lipoxygenase are found in mammalian systems. The activity of these enzymes results in the formation of different hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids, but their functions in vivo have not been clearly established in normal or pathological states. Since several arachidonic acid metabolites clearly play an important role in allergic response, a substantial effort has been directed to understanding the cellular and molecular aspects of these pathways and their pharmacological modulation. This review summarizes some of these aspects based on our current knowledge of the involvement of arachidonic metabolism in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases and outlines the potential therapeutic opportunities that can result from the modulation of these metabolites.
Keywords: asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, aspirin
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