New insights into the obligatory nature of cyclooxygenase-2 and PGE2 during early chick embryogenesis

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2021 Apr;1866(4):158889. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2021.158889. Epub 2021 Jan 15.


Temporal expression patterns and activity of two cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) isoforms were analysed during early chick embryogenesis to evaluate their roles in development. COX-2 inhibition with etoricoxib resulted in significant structural anomalies such as anophthalmia (born without one or both eyes), phocomelia (underdeveloped or truncated limbs), and gastroschisis (an opening in the abdominal wall), indicating its significance in embryogenesis. Furthermore, the levels of PGE2, PGD2, PGF, and TXB2 were assessed using quantitative LC-MS/MS to identify which effector prostanoid (s) had their synthesis initiated by COX-2. COX-2 inhibition was only shown to reduce the level of PGE2 significantly, and hence it could be inferred that the later could be largely under the regulation of activated COX-2 in chick embryos. The compensatory increase in the activity of COX-1 observed in the etoricoxib-treated group helped to maintain the levels of PGD2, PGF, and TXB2. Though the roles of these three prostanoids in embryogenesis need to be further clarified, it appears that their contribution to the observed developmental anomalies is minimal. This study has shown that COX-2 is functionally active during chick embryogenesis, and it plays a central role in the structural configuration of several organs and tissues through its downstream effector molecule PGE2.

Keywords: Cyclooxygenase; Development; Embryogenesis; Lipids; Prostaglandins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avian Proteins / genetics
  • Avian Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chick Embryo / abnormalities
  • Chick Embryo / drug effects
  • Chick Embryo / embryology*
  • Chick Embryo / metabolism
  • Chickens
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects


  • Avian Proteins
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone