Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is one of the most important biologically active prostanoids found throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Despite the fact that PGE2 regulates many physiological functions of the gut including mucosal protection, gastrointestinal secretion and motility, it is implicated in the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and colorectal neoplasia. The varied biological functions exerted by PGE2 are through the pharmacologically distinct, G-protein coupled plasma membrane receptors termed EP receptors. Disruptions of various prostanoid receptor genes have helped in unravelling the physiological functions of these receptors. To date, all four subtypes of EP receptors have been individually knocked out in mice and various phenotypes have been reported for each subtype. Similarly, in vitro and in vivo studies using EP receptor agonists and antagonists have helped in uncoupling the diverse functions of PGE2 signalling involving distinct EP receptors in the gut. In this review, we will summarize and conceptualize the salient features of EP receptor subtypes, their regional functions in the gut and how expressions of EP receptors are altered during disease states.
British Journal of Pharmacology (2006) 149, 611–623. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706923