Epoxide hydrolases (EH), enzymes present in all living organisms, transform epoxide-containing lipids to 1,2-diols by the addition of a molecule of water. Many of these oxygenated lipid substrates have potent biological activities: host defense, control of development, regulation of blood pressure, inflammation, and pain. In general, the bioactivity of these natural epoxides is significantly reduced upon metabolism to diols. Thus, through the regulation of the titer of lipid epoxides, EHs have important and diverse biological roles with profound effects on the physiological state of the host organism. This review will discuss the biological activity of key lipid epoxides in mammals. In addition, the use of EH specific inhibitors will be highlighted as possible therapeutic disease interventions.
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