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Toxicol Sci. 2013 Feb;131(2):654-67. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfs310. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Multiple NSAID-induced hits injure the small intestine: underlying mechanisms and novel strategies.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) injury including jejunal/ileal mucosal ulceration, bleeding, and even perforation in susceptible patients. The underlying mechanisms are largely unknown, but they are distinct from those related to gastric injury. Based on recent insights from experimental models, including genetics and pharmacology in rodents typically exposed to diclofenac, indomethacin, or naproxen, we propose a multiple-hit pathogenesis of NSAID enteropathy. The multiple hits start with an initial pharmacokinetic determinant caused by vectorial hepatobiliary excretion and delivery of glucuronidated NSAID or oxidative metabolite conjugates to the distal small intestinal lumen, where bacterial β-glucuronidase produces critical aglycones. The released aglycones are then taken up by enterocytes and further metabolized by intestinal cytochrome P450s to potentially reactive intermediates. The "first hit" is caused by the NSAID and/or oxidative metabolites that induce severe endoplasmic reticulum stress or mitochondrial stress and lead to cell death. The "second hit" is created by the significant subsequent inflammatory response that would follow such a first-hit injury. Based on these putative mechanisms, strategies have been developed to protect the enterocytes from being exposed to the parent NSAID and/or oxidative metabolites. Among these, a novel strategy already demonstrated in a murine model is the selective disruption of bacteria-specific β-glucuronidases with a novel small molecule inhibitor that does not harm the bacteria and that alleviates NSAID-induced enteropathy. Such mechanism-based strategies require further investigation but provide potential avenues for the alleviation of the GI toxicity caused by multiple NSAID hits.

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