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Scand J Rheumatol. 2004;33(1):1-6.

Selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors: similarities and differences.

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Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Emil Fischer Center, Friedrich Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany.


The enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) was shown to exist as two distinct isoforms about a decade ago. COX-1 is constitutively expressed as a 'housekeeping' enzyme in nearly all tissues, and mediates physiological responses (e.g. cytoprotection of the stomach, and platelet aggregation). On the other hand, COX-2, expressed by cells involved in inflammation (e.g. macrophages, monocytes, synoviocytes), has emerged as the isoform that is primarily responsible for the synthesis of prostanoids involved in acute and chronic inflammatory states. Consequently, the hypothesis that selective inhibition of COX-2 might have therapeutic actions similar to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but without causing gastrointestinal side effects, was the rationale for the development of selective inhibitors of the COX-2 isoenzyme. Selective COX-2 inhibitors currently used in the clinic are the sulphonamides celecoxib and valdecoxib (parecoxib is a prodrug of valdecoxib), as well as the methylsulphones rofecoxib and etoricoxib. Furthermore, the phenylacetic acid derivative lumiracoxib has gained permission recently to be marketed in Europe. This review discusses the clinically relevant similarities and differences of these substances, with particular emphasis on their diverse pharmacokinetic characteristics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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