Atherogenesis is an inflammatory process with leukocytes infiltrating the arterial intima. The lipoxygenase pathways play a role in leukocyte recruitment through the generation of two classes of arachidonic acid lipid mediators, the leukotrienes and the lipoxins, and one class of omega-3 fatty acid metabolites, the resolvins. There is evidence from animal studies and human genetic studies that the leukotrienes and the enzymes necessary for their generation play a role in atherosclerosis, and possibly even in the development of the vulnerable plaque. Less is known about the effect of the anti-inflammatory lipid mediators in atherosclerosis, the lipoxins and the resolvins. Studies modulating the activity of an enzyme necessary for the production of these lipid mediators, 12/15-lipoxygenase, showed discrepant results in several animal models. Also, human genetic studies have not clearly dissected the effect of the enzyme on atherosclerosis. However, stable forms of the lipoxins and the resolvins protect animals from inflammatory diseases. Whether blocking the leukotrienes or applying anti-inflammatory lipoxins and resolvins will be effective in attenuating human atherosclerosis needs to be demonstrated in future studies. In this review, the biosynthesis of these lipid mediators, their biological effects and the evidence for their possible role in atherosclerosis are discussed with an emphasis on human disease.
Clin Chem Lab Med 2010;48:1063–73.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York