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Neurochem Int. 2007 Jul-Sep;51(2-4):112-20. Epub 2007 May 31.

Roles of prostaglandin synthesis in excitotoxic brain diseases.

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Department of Neuropharmacology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience, Fuchu, Tokyo 183-8526, Japan.


Cyclooxygenase (COX) is a rate-limiting enzyme in prostaglandin synthesis. COX consists of two isoforms, constitutive COX-1 and inducible COX-2. We have first found that COX-2 expression in the brain is tightly regulated by neuronal activity under physiological conditions, and electroconvulsive seizure robustly induces COX-2 mRNA in the brain. Our recent in-depth studies reveal COX-2 expression is divided into two phases, early in neurons and late in non-neuronal cells, such as endothelial cells or astrocytes. In this review, we present that early synthesized COX-2 facilitates the recurrence of hippocampal seizures in rapid kindling model, and late induced COX-2 stimulates hippocampal neuron loss after kainic acid treatment. Hence, we consider the potential role of COX-2 inhibitors as a new therapeutic drug for a neuronal loss after seizure or focal cerebral ischemia. The short-term and sub-acute medication of selective COX-2 inhibitors that suppresses an elevation of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) may be an effective treatment to prevent neuronal loss after onset of neuronal excitatory diseases. This review also discusses a novel role of vascular endothelial cells in brain diseases. We found that these cells produce PGE(2) by synthesizing COX-2 and microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) in response to excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation. We also show a possible mechanisms of neuronal damage associated with seizure via astrocytes and endothelial cells. Further analysis of the interaction among neurons, astrocytes and endothelial cells may provide a better understanding of the processes of neuropathological disorders, as well as facilitating the development of new treatments.

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