Autacoids or "autocoids" are biological factors which act like local hormones, have a brief duration, and act near the site of synthesis. The word autacoids comes from the Greek "Autos" (self) and "Acos" (relief, i.e. drug). The effect of autacoids are mostly localized but large amounts can be produced and moved into circulation. Autacoids may thus have systemic effect by being transported via circulation. These regulating molecules are also metabolized locally. So the compounds are produced locally, they act locally and are metabolised locally. Autacoids can have many different biological actions including modulation of the activity of smooth muscles, glands, nerves, platelets and other tissues.
Some other autacoids are primarily characterized by the effect they have upon different tissues, such as smooth muscle. With respect to vascular smooth muscle, there are both vasoconstrictor and vasodilator autacoids.
Vasodilator autacoids can be released during periods of exercise. Their main effect is seen in the skin, allowing for heat loss.
These are local hormones and therefore have a paracrine effect. Some notable autacoids are: eicosanoids, angiotensin, neurotensin, NO (nitric oxide), kinins, histamine, serotonin, endothelins, palmitoylethanolamide, etc.
Autacoid Medicine is based on the use of autacoids to enhance healing effects. Especially the lipid autacoids, such as the N-acylethanolamides, the lipoxins, resolvins and protectins are classes of autacoids quite promising for a great number of indications, from dry eye, chronic gingivitis up to asthma and chronic neuropathic pain. Most lipid autacoids are still under development for these indications, palmitoylethanolamide however has been available since its first introduction as a foodsupplement in 2005. Autacoid Medicine is seen as an important step forwards, resulting in the design of new therapies for many chronic disorders.
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