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Scand J Immunol. 2004 Oct;60(4):412-20.

Dose-dependent immunomodulatory effects of acetylsalicylic acid and indomethacin in human whole blood: potential role of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition.

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1
Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany.

Abstract

The aim of the study was to characterize the in vitro effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in a human whole blood assay. Whole blood samples were pre-incubated with acetylsalicylic acid, indomethacin, selective cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 inhibitor (SC-560), COX-2 inhibitor (NS-398) or prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) before stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines were determined directly at the cell level with the help of flow cytometry and/or in the plasma supernatant with the help of ELISA. High doses of acetylsalicylic acid were needed to inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine production. In contrast, low-to-moderate doses induced a modestly enhanced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, indomethacin was demonstrated to increase the expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in a dose-dependent fashion. Upon addition of PGE2, however, LPS-induced IL-6 and TNF-alpha production was suppressed regardless of indomethacin presence. Interestingly, selective COX-2 inhibition (NS-398), but not selective COX-1 inhibition (SC-560), exerted a stimulatory effect on the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These data emphasize that the immunomodulating effects of NSAIDs in whole blood are dose-dependent. Furthermore, the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokine expression by NSAIDs is potentially mediated by COX-2 inhibition. Although NSAIDs are successfully used in clinical practice for their net anti-inflammatory properties, our observations may contribute to the understanding of side effects induced by NSAIDs and selective COX-2 inhibitors.

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