Eicosanoids in synaptic transmission

Crit Rev Neurobiol. 1994;8(1-2):65-83.


Arachidonic acid is released from membrane phospholipids in a receptor-dependent manner when neurons or glial cells are stimulated with neurotransmitters, hormones, or growth factors. The released fatty acid can be metabolized in brain tissue by three enzymatic pathways--cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, and cytochrome P450--giving rise to a series of biologically active products, the eicosanoids. Intracellular actions of these lipids include regulation of membrane ion channels, protein kinases, and ion pumps, thus suggesting a role as neuronal second messengers. In addition, the eicosanoids may be released into the extracellular space and interact with high affinity, G protein-coupled receptors on neurons and glial cells. Acting through these two distinct and complementary modes of action, the eicosanoids may participate in several forms of neuromodulation and synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eicosanoids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Eicosanoids