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Br J Pharmacol. 1997 Oct; 122(3): 487–492.
PMCID: PMC1564971

Effects of ibuprofen enantiomers and its coenzyme A thioesters on human prostaglandin endoperoxide synthases


  1. Ibuprofen enantiomers and their respective coenzyme A thioesters were tested in human platelets and blood monocytes to determine their selectivity and potency as inhibitors of cyclo-oxygenase activity of prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase-1 (PGHS-1) and PGHS-2.
  2. Human blood from volunteers was drawn and allowed to clot at 37°C for 1 h in the presence of increasing concentrations of the test compounds (R-ibuprofen, S-ibuprofen, R-ibuprofenoyl-CoA, S-ibuprofenoyl-CoA, NS-398). Immunoreactive (ir) thromboxane B2 (TXB2) concentrations in serum were determined by a specific EIA assay as an index of the cyclo-oxygenase activity of platelet PGHS-1.
  3. Heparin-treated blood from the same donors was incubated at 37°C for 24 h with the same concentrations of the test compounds in the presence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 10 μg ml−1). The contribution of PGHS-1 was suppressed by pretreatment of the volunteers with aspirin (500 mg; 48 h before venepuncture). As a measure of LPS induced PGHS-2 activity immunoreactive prostaglandin E2 (irPGE2) plasma concentrations were determined by a specific EIA assay.
  4. S-ibuprofen inhibited the activity of PGHS-1 (IC50 2.1 μM) and PGHS-2 (IC50 1.6 μM) equally. R-ibuprofen inhibited PGHS-1 (IC50 34.9) less potently than S-ibuprofen and showed no inhibition of PGHS-2 up to 250 μM. By contrast R-ibuprofenoyl-CoA thioester inhibited PGE2 production from LPS-stimulated monocytes almost two orders of magnitude more potently than the generation of TXB2 (IC50 5.6 vs 219 μM).
  5. Western blotting of PGHS-2 after LPS induction of blood monocytes showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of PGHS-2 protein expression by ibuprofenoyl-CoA thioesters.
  6. These data confirm that S-ibuprofen represents the active entity in the racemate with respect to cyclo-oxygenase activity. More importantly the data suggest a contribution of the R-enantiomer to therapeutic effects not only by chiral inversion to S-ibuprofen but also via inhibition of induction of PGHS-2 mediated by R-ibuprofenoyl-CoA thioester.
  7. The data may explain why racemic ibuprofen is ranked as one of the safest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) so far determined in epidemiological studies.
Keywords: Ibuprofen, enantiomers, coenzyme A thioester, prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase, chiral inversion

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