The effects of aging on the prostacyclin and thromboxane biosynthesis and prostaglandin catabolic enzyme activity in rat kidney were investigated. The prostacyclin biosynthesis, using arachidonic acid as substrate, was the greatest in young kidneys (2 months old) and then progressively decreased in mature (12 months old) and old (24 months old) kidneys, while thromboxane biosynthetic activity showed no significant change as a function of age. When prostaglandin H2 was used as substrate, the prostacyclin and thromboxane biosynthesis showed similar results as when arachidonic acid was used as substrate; the prostacyclin biosynthesis progressively decreased and thromboxane biosynthesis showed no significant change as a function of age. The fatty acid cyclooxygenase in kidney was measured by a specific radioimmunoassay. No significant change in renal fatty acid cyclooxygenase as a function of age was found. Thus, we concluded that the progressive decrease in renal prostacyclin biosynthesis as a function of age is due to a defect in prostacyclin synthetase in aged kidneys. The prostaglandin catabolic enzyme, NAD+-dependent 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase, in kidneys was also investigated. The enzyme activity progressively decreased as a function of age, which suggested a decrease in the metabolism of thromboxane A2 in aged kidneys. The present results, indicating a decrease in renal prostacyclin biosynthesis and renal 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase activity with aging, might contribute to a plausible explanation of the progressive decrease in renal functions in the elderly.
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