Liver cytoprotection by prostaglandins

Pharmacol Ther. 1993;58(1):67-91. doi: 10.1016/0163-7258(93)90067-n.


During the last decade intensive work on the relationships between the liver and the arachidonic acid cascade has greatly expanded our knowledge of this area of research. The liver has emerged as the major organ participating in the degradation and elimination of arachidonate products of systemic origin. The synthesis in the liver of arachidonate products derived from the cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and cytochrome P450 system pathways has been demonstrated. The participation of leukotriene B4 and cysteinyl-leukotrienes as mediators of liver damage and the possible therapeutic usefulness of prostaglandins (PGs) in acute liver injury has attracted the interest of clinicians. This article reviews the essential features regarding the role of arachidonate metabolites in liver disease and specially focuses on the cytoprotective effects on the liver displayed by PGE2, PGE1, PGI2 and synthetic PG analogs in experimental models of liver damage induced by ischemia-reperfusion injury, carbon tetrachloride, bacterial lipopolysaccharide and viral hepatitis and on the possible mechanisms underlying liver cytoprotection in these experimental models. The therapeutic usefulness of PGs in clinical practice is critically analyzed on the basis of available evidence in patients with fulminant hepatic failure and primary graft nonfunction following liver transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Prostaglandins / biosynthesis
  • Prostaglandins / pharmacology
  • Prostaglandins / therapeutic use*


  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Prostaglandins
  • Arachidonic Acid