January 1974

The Medical Significance of Prostaglandins

Author Affiliations


From the Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago.

Arch Intern Med. 1974;133(1):29. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320130031003

In 1930, Kurzrok and Lieb,1 New York gynecologists, while studying the effects of seminal fluid on the human uterus, observed some of the muscle-stimulating actions of "prostaglandins." In the mid-1930s, Goldblatt2 in England and von Euler3 in Sweden independently described some of the actions of seminal plasma on smooth muscle; and von Euler, obtaining his material from seminal fluid and from lipid extracts of sheep vesicular glands coined the term "prostaglandin." The misnomer has continued, but it is now known that prostaglandins are present in most biological tissues and fluids. The newly discoverd compounds languished for a period of some 20 years until improvement in technology and renewed interest on the part of Sune Bergström resulted in the crystallization of two prostaglandins reported by Bergström and Sjövall in 1960.4

The finding by von Euler (structures later defined by Bergström), that the active compounds in seminal fluid

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