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Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid ingested in meat or derived from the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. It is stored in the membranes of body cells, ready for rapid, de novo synthesis of a spectrum of metabolites which act as mediators in:

  • inflammation
  • haemostasis
  • cardiovascular pathophysiology
  • pulmonary pathophysiology
  • renal pathophysiology
  • endocrine pathophysiology

It is metabolised along two principal pathways. The enzyme 5-lipoxygenase produces leukotrienes. The enzyme cyclo-oxygenase produces the prostanoids and thromboxane. The latter is inhibited by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


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