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Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Dec;29(11):1135-42.

Synergistic inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 expression by vitamin E and aspirin.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Martin Luther University, Halle (Saale), Germany.


The use of aspirin in rheumatoid arthritis is limited since inhibition of the pro-inflammatory enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 occurs only at higher aspirin doses that are often associated with side effects such as gastric toxicity. Using a macrophage cell line (J774. 1A), the present study explores possible synergistic effects of aspirin and vitamin E on the expression and activity of cyclooxygenase-2. Lipopolysaccharide-induced prostaglandin E(2) formation was significantly reduced by aspirin (1-100 microM) or vitamin E (100-300 microM). When combined with vitamin E, aspirin-dependent inhibition of prostaglandin E(2) formation was increased from 59% to 95% of control. Likewise, lipopolysaccharide-induced cyclooxygenase-2 protein and mRNA expression were virtually abolished by the combined treatment of aspirin and vitamin E, whereas the two agents alone were only modestly effective. Vitamin C did not mimic the actions of vitamin E under these conditions, suggesting that redox-independent mechanisms underlie the action of vitamin E. In agreement with this, vitamin E and aspirin were without effect on lipopolysaccharide-induced translocation of the redox-sensitive transcription factor NF-kappa B. Our results show that co-administration of vitamin E renders cyclooxygenase-2 more sensitive to inhibition by aspirin by as yet unknown mechanisms. Thus, anti-inflammatory therapy might be successful with lower aspirin doses when combined with vitamin E, thereby possibly avoiding the side effects of the usually required high dose aspirin treatment.

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