Bergstrom, Sune K: (1916-2004) Swedish physician and scientist who was awarded the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine in 1982 for isolating and elucidating the chemical structure of prostaglandins. The main breakthrough in prostaglandin research was made in the 1950s when Bergström and his associates succeeded in the purification of two important prostaglandins, PGE and PGF, and in identifying their chemical structure. They found that the prostaglandins are formed by conversion of unsaturated fatty acids. Bergström shared the Nobel Prize with his student Bengt Samuelsson and John Vane for their discoveries concerning "prostaglandins and related biologically active substances."
Prostaglandins are formed when the function of the tissue is pertubed by trauma, disease or stress, thereby maintaining or reconstituting the normal function. The prostaglandins and their related substances, which include thromboxane and prostacyclin, act as local tissue hormones and function in the defense of cells against sudden changes. Other members of the prostaglandin family, the leukotrienes, are formed only in a few tissues and cells, chiefly in the lung and white blood cells. Release of leukotriene in allergic and inflammatory conditions is probably responsible for the symptoms which characterize these diseases. Prostaglandins and compounds that inhibit the formation of prostaglandins are widely used in clinical medicine.
Sune Bergström had a long and illustrious career. He headed the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and was chairman of the Board of Directors at the Nobel Foundation.