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Eur Heart J. 1993 Dec;14 Suppl K:88-93.

Cellular activation by thromboxane A2 and other eicosanoids.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics, University College Dublin, Ireland.


Thromboxane A2 (TXA2), the major cyclooxygenase (COX) product of arachidonic acid (AA), activates platelets and is a potent vasoconstrictor. The functional importance of this eicosanoid has been demonstrated in syndromes of acute coronary ischaemia. The cellular response to this agonist is tightly regulated. The liberation of AA from membrane phospholipids is conventionally thought to be the rate limiting step in TXA2 biosynthesis. However, the discovery of a second, highly regulated COX gene (COX-2) and the demonstration of product-based inactivation of COX and thromboxane synthase suggest a more complex regulation of TXA2 formation. TXA2 signalling is mediated by a G-protein linked receptor (PGH2/TXA2 receptor) which activates phospholipase C (PLC). Pharmacological studies suggest two distinct binding sites on platelets, but receptor heterogeneity has yet to be documented at a molecular level. The PGH2/TXA2 receptors are linked via a pertussis and cholera toxin-insensitive G-protein which has not been fully characterized, but is thought to belong to the Gq class of G-proteins. The diversity of G-protein alpha subunits, and growing evidence suggesting functional roles for the beta-gamma subunit, support a possible dual signalling mechanism of cellular activation. This may be of particular importance in regulating the response to eicosanoids with contrasting actions. A receptor for prostacyclin (PGI2) has not yet been cloned but biochemical studies suggest that it is linked to the activation of adenylate cyclase via Gs. At least three distinct prostaglandin E receptors have been identified. Desensitization of the cellular responses to the activation of TXA2, PGI2 and PGE receptors have been demonstrated and potential phosphorylation sites in their COOH terminal ends may be important in mediating this effect.

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