Neutrophil activation: An alternative to prostaglandin inhibition as the mechanism of action for NSAIDs

R. D. Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Experimental findings suggest that inhibition of neutrophil activation rather than suppression of prostaglandin formation may represent the principal mechanism of action of antiinflammatory drugs. This theory would account for the effectiveness of prostaglandin preserving agents, such as the nonacetylated salicylate salsalate, in the treatment of rheumatic disease. Results of the controlled clinical trials described in other papers contained in this supplement indicate that salsalate is equally effective as aspirin and the newer NSAID naproxen in relieving the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The damage to the gastric mucosa associated with NSAID use is believed to be attributable to impairment of mucosal defense mechanisms resulting from the inhibition of gastroprotective prostaglandins. Confirmation of neutrophil activation as the mechanism of action of NSAIDs would explain the efficacy of salsalate in light of its lower incidence of gastrointestinal side effects in controlled clinical trials with aspirin and naproxen. Establishment of such a mechanism would also suggest that the other adverse effects related to prostaglandin inhibition, such as hypersensitivity reactions, platelet dysfunction, and a reduction in renal function, are not necessary correlates of effective antiinflammatory therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number4 SUPPL. 2
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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