Background - From a cardiovascular standpoint, the safety of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) blockers has been a topic of increasing concern. This concern stemmed from observations indicating that the COX-2 isoform is the major source of endothelium-derived prostacyclin and, hence, that selective blockade of this enzyme may impair endothelial health. To investigate this matter, we examined the effects of 7 days of treatment with rofecoxib versus naproxen on endothelial function in healthy volunteers. Methods and Results - Thirty-five healthy volunteers were randomized to receive 7-day treatment with either rofecoxib (25 mg/d, n = 18) or naproxen (750 mg/d, n = 17). Vascular response measurements were conducted using forearm strain-gauge plethysmography. Changes in forearm blood flow in response to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator acetylcholine (3, 10, and 30 μg/min) and the endothelium-independent vasodilator sodium nitroprusside (1 and 10 μg/min) were assessed before and after treatment. Acetylcholine evoked a dose-dependent increase in forearm blood flow in all groups. Importantly, treatment resulted in no change in acetylcholine-mediated increases in forearm blood flow in either group (naproxen, P = 0.27; rofecoxib, P = 0.58). Similarly, there was no change in forearm blood flow in response to sodium nitroprusside (naproxen, P = 0.55; rofecoxib, P = 0.63). Conclusions - We herein describe, for the first time, the effects of COX-2-selective inhibition on endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in healthy adults. COX-2 blockade, when used at the doses employed therapeutically (which are known to inhibit vascular prostacyclin production) did not result in significant changes in endothelial vasodilator responses in healthy volunteers. The effects of COX-2 inhibitors on vasodilator responses in patients with coronary artery disease remain to be determined.
- Endothelium-derived factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)