The prostaglandin E(2) system: a toolbox for skeletal repair?
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), the most widely produced member of the prostaglandin group, originates from arachidonic acid that is released from the cell membrane by phospholipase A2, followed by enzymatic conversion by cyclooxygenase (COX) and PGE synthase 1 (PGES-1). PGE2 not only triggers pain and inflammation but also promotes matrix degradation and tissue damage by stimulating the expression of matrix-degrading enzymes (2). Inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 or tumor necrosis factor strongly increase PGE2 levels, but PGE2 secretion may also increase in response to other stimuli including growth factors, hypoxia, and a number of hormones.
Apart from the well-defined role of PGE2 in tissue inflammation, there is increasing evidence that it is involved in the maintenance and repair of the skeletal system. At first glance, the effects of PGE2 on tissue homeostasis of bone and cartilage seem confusing, because they conflict with the long-known destructive potential of the prostaglandins. Nevertheless, both catabolic and anabolic effects have already been described for PGE2 in these tissues. In terms of catabolism, PGE2 can promote osteoclastic bone resorption (3,4) and enhance breakdown of the extracellular matrix by increasing the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3) or MMP-13 (2,5). Regarding its anabolic aspects, PGE2 may stimulate chondrogenesis, chondrocyte proliferation (6), cartilage matrix synthesis (7), as well as osteoblast activity (8). To shed light on the apparent ambivalent role of PGE2, a multidimensional view is necessary that addresses the developmental stage, type of tissue, disease status, concentration of PGE2, and specific receptor status of the different cell types.