Cortisol and corticosterone are used as steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (SAIDs). They inhibit inflammation by blocking the release of arachidonic acid from the plasma membrane, thus inhibiting the synthesis of all eicosanoids. Their main disadvantage is that prolonged use causes side effects that mimic Cushing syndrome (see p. 668). Aspirin and ibuprofen (Motrin) are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with more selective effects. They stop the action of cyclooxy-genase, thus blocking prostaglandin synthesis without affecting lipoxygenase or the leukotrienes. For similar reasons, aspirin inhibits blood clotting (see chapter 18). One theory of fever is that it results from the action of prostaglandins on the hypothalamus. Most antipyretic (fever-reducing) drugs work by inhibiting cyclooxygenase.
Before You Go On
Answer the following questions to test your understanding of the preceding section:
22. What are eicosanoids and how do they differ from neurotransmitters and hormones?
23. Distinguish between a paracrine and endocrine effect.
24. State four functions of prostaglandins.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.