Prostaglandins (PG) are involved in the regulation of many physiological processes in the liver and play a major role in the pathophysiology and treatment of liver diseases. In addition to their effects on cell growth and immune function, PGs have shown cytoprotective effects on hepatocytes in various toxic, ischemic, and infectious models of liver injury. Although the mechanisms for these beneficial effects have not been precisely delineated, synthetic PG analogues have increasingly been used in patients with acute liver failure and chronic liver disease. There is also increasing evidence suggesting that PGs may reduce the early morbidity and mortality associated with liver transplantation, particularly in the context of primary graft nonfunction and renal dysfunction associated with cyclosporine and tacrolimus therapy. PG analogues have also been used for the treatment and control of recurrent hepatitis B virus infection in liver allograft recipients. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the role of PGs in hepatic physiology and disease and to review the use of synthetic PG analogues in the clinical settings of liver failure and transplantation.
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