Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) plays a key role in the regulation of inflammation by catalyzing the oxygenation of PUFAs to prostaglandins (PGs) and hydroperoxides. Next to this, COX-2 can metabolize neutral lipids, including endocannabinoid-like esters and amides. We developed an LC-HRMS-based human recombinant (h)COX-2 screening assay to examine its ability to also convert n-3 PUFA-derived N-acylethanolamines. Our assay yields known hCOX-2-derived products from established PUFAs and anandamide. Subsequently, we proved that eicosapentaenoylethanolamide (EPEA), the N-acylethanolamine derivative of EPA, is converted into PGE3-ethanolamide (PGE3-EA), and into 11-, 14-, and 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoyl-EA (11-, 14-, and 18-HEPE-EA, respectively). Interestingly, we demonstrated that docosahexaenoylethanolamide (DHEA) is converted by hCOX-2 into the previously unknown metabolites, 13- and 16-hydroxy-DHEA (13- and 16-HDHEA, respectively). These products were also produced by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW267.4 macrophages incubated with DHEA. No oxygenated DHEA metabolites were detected when the selective COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib, was added to the cells, further underlining the role of COX-2 in the formation of the novel hydroxylated products. This work demonstrates for the first time that DHEA and EPEA are converted by COX-2 into previously unknown hydroxylated metabolites and invites future studies toward the biological effects of these metabolites.
- cyclooxygenase 2
- fatty acid amides
- fatty acid oxidation
- high-performance liquid chromatography
- mass spectrometry