During the last decade, the prostaglandins have attracted considerable research activity and have become of clinical importance in several disease states. It is probable that further clinical applications will develop in the future and, therefore, a review of our current knowledge of these biologically active compounds is timely. The reader should appreciate that information about the biosynthesis and metabolism of the prostaglandins (PGs) and related substances is increasing so rapidly that even the results of experiments performed recently have to be constantly reevaluated. What may seem to be true today may no longer be valid tomorrow!
"Prostaglandin" was the named coined by von Euler1 in 1935 for an active substance found in lipid extracts of sheep seminal vesicles that both stimulated smooth muscle to contract and caused hypotension when injected into animals. Not all the compounds to be discussed in this article share the prostanoic acid skeleton, which is