What is the role of eicosanoids in the pathophysiology of cyclooxygenase (COX) deficiency?

Updated: Feb 19, 2019
  • Author: George T Griffing, MD; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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The eicosanoids, which include prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, and lipoxins, are derived from the oxygenation of 20-carbon polyunsaturated essential fatty acids via the COX and lipoxygenase pathways. [1, 10] However, only a fraction of these 20-carbon polyenoic acid precursors are the substrates that actually yield eicosanoids. The most significant of the precursors include the following:

  • 8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid (dihomo-g-linolenic acid)

  • 5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid (arachidonic acid)

  • 5,8,1,14,17-eicosapentaenoic acid

Omega-6 fatty acids, the essential substrates of dihomo-g-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid, are derivatives of linoleic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids, the essential substrates of eicosapentaenoic acid, are derivatives of a-linolenic acid. As a result, linoleic and linolenic fatty acid pathways of desaturation and elongation provide the essential precursors for COX and lipoxygenase that ultimately result in the production of eicosanoids. [10]

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