LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Prostacyclin molecule. Computer model showing the structure of the hormone prostacyclin, or prostaglandin I2 (PGI2). Atoms are colour-coded (carbon: dark grey, hydrogen: light grey, oxygen: red). Prostacyclin acts to widen blood vessels (thus lowering blood pressure) and to prevent aggregation of platelets (preventing blood clotting). These effects are the opposite of those of the related hormone thromboxane, and the balance between the two is important in regulating the functioning of the circulatory system. When taken as a drug it is known as epoprostenol.
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