Journal Article

Mechanism of Action of Acetaminophen: Is There a Cyclooxygenase 3?

Regina M. Botting

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 31, issue Supplement_5, pages S202-S210
Published in print October 2000 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online October 2000 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/317520
Mechanism of Action of Acetaminophen: Is There a Cyclooxygenase 3?

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Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug with potent antipyretic and analgesic actions but with very weak anti-inflammatory activity. When administered to humans, it reduces levels of prostaglandin metabolites in urine but does not reduce synthesis of prostaglandins by blood platelets or by the stomach mucosa. Because acetaminophen is a weak inhibitor in vitro of both cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2, the possibility exists that it inhibits a so far unidentified form of COX, perhaps COX-3. In animal studies, COX enzymes in homogenates of different tissues vary in sensitivity to the inhibitory action of acetaminophen. This may be evidence that there are >2 isoforms of the enzyme. Recently, a variant of COX-2 induced with high concentrations of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was shown to be highly sensitive to inhibition by acetaminophen. Therefore COX-3 may be a product of the same gene that encodes COX-2, but have different molecular characteristics.

Journal Article.  6775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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