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      The Coxibs, Selective Inhibitors of Cyclooxygenase-2

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      New England Journal of Medicine

      Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Comparison of upper gastrointestinal toxicity of rofecoxib and naproxen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. VIGOR Study Group.

          Each year, clinical upper gastrointestinal events occur in 2 to 4 percent of patients who are taking nonselective nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We assessed whether rofecoxib, a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2, would be associated with a lower incidence of clinically important upper gastrointestinal events than is the nonselective NSAID naproxen among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. We randomly assigned 8076 patients who were at least 50 years of age (or at least 40 years of age and receiving long-term glucocorticoid therapy) and who had rheumatoid arthritis to receive either 50 mg of rofecoxib daily or 500 mg of naproxen twice daily. The primary end point was confirmed clinical upper gastrointestinal events (gastroduodenal perforation or obstruction, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and symptomatic gastroduodenal ulcers). Rofecoxib and naproxen had similar efficacy against rheumatoid arthritis. During a median follow-up of 9.0 months, 2.1 confirmed gastrointestinal events per 100 patient-years occurred with rofecoxib, as compared with 4.5 per 100 patient-years with naproxen (relative risk, 0.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.3 to 0.6; P<0.001). The respective rates of complicated confirmed events (perforation, obstruction, and severe upper gastrointestinal bleeding) were 0.6 per 100 patient-years and 1.4 per 100 patient-years (relative risk, 0.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.2 to 0.8; P=0.005). The incidence of myocardial infarction was lower among patients in the naproxen group than among those in the rofecoxib group (0.1 percent vs. 0.4 percent; relative risk, 0.2; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.1 to 0.7); the overall mortality rate and the rate of death from cardiovascular causes were similar in the two groups. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, treatment with rofecoxib, a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2, is associated with significantly fewer clinically important upper gastrointestinal events than treatment with naproxen, a nonselective inhibitor.
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            Inducible cyclooxygenase may have anti-inflammatory properties.

            Cyclooxygenase (COX) has two isoforms. Generally, COX 1 is constitutively expressed in most tissues, where it maintains physiological processes; inducible COX 2 is considered a pro-inflammatory enzyme and a chief target for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Here we present evidence that COX 2 may have anti-inflammatory properties. In carrageenin-induced pleurisy in rats, the predominant cells at 2 hours are polymorphonuclear leucocytes, whereas mononuclear cells dominate from 24 hours until resolution at 48 hours. In this model, COX 2 protein expression peaked initially at 2 hours, associated with maximal prostaglandin E2 synthesis. However, at 48 hours there was a second increase in COX 2 expression, 350% greater than that at 2 hours. Paradoxically, this coincided with inflammatory resolution and was associated with minimal prostaglandin E2 synthesis. In contrast, levels of prostaglandin D2, and 15deoxy delta(12-14)prostaglandin J2 were high at 2 hours, decreased as inflammation increased, but were increased again at 48 hours. The selective COX 2 inhibitor NS-398 and the dual COX 1/COX 2 inhibitor indomethacin inhibited inflammation at 2 hours but significantly exacerbated inflammation at 48 hours. This exacerbation was associated with reduced exudate prostaglandin D2 and 15deoxy delta(12-14)prostaglandin J2 concentrations, and was reversed by replacement of these prostaglandins. Thus, COX 2 may be pro-inflammatory during the early phase of a carrageenin-induced pleurisy, dominated by polymorphonuclear leucocytes, but may aid resolution at the later, mononuclear cell-dominated phase by generating an alternative set of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
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              Gastrointestinal Toxicity With Celecoxib vs Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                August 09 2001
                August 09 2001
                : 345
                : 6
                : 433-442
                Article
                10.1056/NEJM200108093450607
                11496855
                © 2001
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