Role of prostaglandins in gastroprotection and gastric adaptation

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;56 Suppl 5:33-55.


Since Robert discovery that pretreatment with prostaglandin (PG) applied in non-antisecretory dose can prevent the injury of gastric mucosa induced by necrotizing agents, much attention was paid to the role of these cyclooxygenase (COX) products in the mechanism of gastric mucosal integrity and ulcer healing. The ability of exogenous PG to attenuate or even completely prevent mucosal damage caused by corrosive substances such as absolute ethanol, hyperosmolar solutions or concentrated bile has been termed "cytoprotection". Increased generation of endogenous PG in the gastric mucosa exposed to the topical contact with "mild irritant" such as 20% ethanol, 1 mM NaCl or 5 mM taurocholate also prevented gastric injury caused by strong irritants via phenomenon of adaptive cytoprotection. Other mediators such as growth factors, nitric oxide (NO) or calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) as well as some gut hormones including gastrin and cholecystokinin (CCK), leptin, ghrelin and gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) have been also found to protect gastric mucosa against the damage induced by corrosive substances. This protective action of gut hormones has been attributed to the release of PG or activation of sensory nerves because it could be abolished by the pretreatment with indomethacin or large neurotoxic dose of capsaicin and restored by the addition of exogenous PGE(2) or CGRP, respectively. Short (5 min) ischemia of the stomach applied before prolonged ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) attenuated markedly the gastric lesions produced by this I/R and also prevented the mucosal damage provoked by necrotizing substances. This protection could be abolished by the pretreatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and was accompanied by an enhancement of gastric mucosal COX-2 expression and activity. Exposure of gastric mucosa to single insult of acidified aspirin (ASA) causes severe mucosal damage with occurrence of multiple haemorrhagic lesions but with repeated application of ASA, the attenuation of mucosal lesions is observed, despite the profound inhibition of PGE(2) generation. This phenomenon called "gastric adaptation" does not appear to depend upon endogenous biosynthesis of PG but possibly involves enhanced production of growth factors increasing cell proliferation and mucosal regeneration. Unlike short lived gastroprotection by PG, NO, CGRP, mild irritants or short ischemia, gastric adaptation appears to be long-lasting phenomenon accompanied by increased resistance of the adapted mucosa to subsequent damage induced by corrosive agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / drug effects
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / drug effects
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Cytoprotection
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Prostaglandins / metabolism
  • Prostaglandins / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Prostaglandins
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone