Leukotrienes are powerful immune-regulating lipid mediators with established pathogenic roles in inflammatory allergic diseases of the respiratory tract — in particular, asthma and hay fever. More recent work indicates that these lipids also contribute to low-grade inflammation, a hallmark of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic diseases as well as cancer. Biosynthesis of leukotrienes involves oxidative metabolism of arachidonic acid and proceeds via a set of soluble and membrane enzymes that are primarily expressed by cells of myeloid origin. In activated immune cells, these enzymes assemble at the endoplasmic and perinuclear membrane, constituting a biosynthetic complex. This Review describes recent advances in our understanding of the components of the leukotriene-synthesizing enzyme machinery, emerging opportunities for pharmacological intervention, and the development of new medicines exploiting both antiinflammatory and pro-resolving mechanisms.
Jesper Z. Haeggström