Any of a group of organic compounds derived from essential fatty acids and causing a range of physiological effects in animals. Prostaglandins have been detected in most body tissues. They act at very low concentrations to cause the contraction of smooth muscle; natural and synthetic prostaglandins are used to induce abortion or labour in humans and domestic animals. Two prostaglandin derivatives have antagonistic effects on blood circulation: thromboxane A2 causes blood clotting while prostacyclin causes blood vessels to dilate. Inflammation in allergic reactions and other diseases is also thought to involve prostaglandins.
Subjects: Medicine and Health — Chemistry.