chapter  29
Pages 24

The enzymatic oxidation of 5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid, better known as arachidonic acid, produces a large group of biologically active 20 carbon polyunsaturated fatty acids. The prostanoids, including prostaglandins, prostacyclin, and thromboxanes, represent some of the metabolites of this membrane-associated precursor and are believed to participate not only in the maintenance of normal airway tone, but in the inflammatory mechanisms that are likely to contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma. In this chapter, we briefly review (1) the formation and metabolism of the primary prostanoids, (2) specific prostanoid receptors, (3) the physiological properties of these lipid mediators, and (4) their potential roles in the pathogenesis of asthma.