Abstract

Arachidonic acid can be metabolized in blood vessels by three primary enzymatic pathways; cyclooxygenase (COX), lipoxygenase (LO), and cytochrome P450 (CYP). These eicosanoid metabolites can influence endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cell function. COX metabolites can cause endothelium-dependent dilation or constriction. Prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) and thromboxane (TXA2) act on their respective receptors exerting opposing actions with regard to vascular tone and platelet aggregation. LO metabolites also influence vascular tone. The 12-LO metabolite 12S-hydroxyeicosatrienoic acid (12S-HETE) is a vasoconstrictor whereas the 15-LO metabolite 11,12,15-trihydroxyeicosatrienoic acid (11,12,15-THETA) is an endothelial-dependent hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). CYP enzymes produce two types of eicosanoid products: EDHF vasodilator epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) and the vasoconstrictor 20-HETE. The less-studied cross-metabolites generated from arachidonic acid metabolism by multiple pathways can also impact vascular function. Likewise, COX, LO, and CYP vascular eicosanoids interact with paracrine and hormonal factors such as the renin–angiotensin system and endothelin-1 (ET-1) to maintain vascular homeostasis. Imbalances in endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cell COX, LO, and CYP metabolites in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases result in vascular dysfunction. Restoring the vascular balance of eicosanoids by genetic or pharmacological means can improve vascular function in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Nevertheless, future research is necessary to achieve a more complete understanding of how COX, LO, CYP, and cross-metabolites regulate vascular function in physiological and pathological states.

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