Originally regarded as just membrane constituents and energy storing molecules, lipids are now recognised as potent signalling molecules that regulate a multitude of cellular responses via receptor-mediated pathways, including cell growth and death, and inflammation/infection. Derived from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), each lipid displays unique properties, thus making their role in inflammation distinct from that of other lipids derived from the same PUFA. The diversity of their actions arises because such metabolites are synthesised via discrete enzymatic pathways and because they elicit their response via different receptors. This review will collate the bioactive lipid research to date and summarise the findings in terms of the major pathways involved in their biosynthesis and their role in inflammation and its resolution. It will include lipids derived from AA (prostanoids, leukotrienes, 5-oxo-6,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid, lipoxins and epoxyeicosatrienoic acids), EPA (E-series resolvins), and DHA (D-series resolvins, protectins and maresins).
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