R- and S-isomers of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs differentially regulate cytokine production

Eur Cytokine Netw. 2000 Jun;11(2):185-92.


2-arylpropionic acids, a well known class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), exist as a racemic mixture of their enantiomeric forms, with S-isomers primarily responsible for inhibition of prostaglandin (PG) production and of inflammatory events. In this study we show that S-isomers are also responsible for the paradoxical up-regulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) induced by ketoprofen, flurbiprofen and ibuprofen in murine peritoneal macrophages stimulated by bacterial endotoxin (LPS). This effect is in close correlation with cyclooxygenase inhibitory capacity of S-isomers and, from Northern blot analysis, seems to be mediated by the up-regulation of TNF mRNA. In addition, up-regulation of TNF production by S-isomers is associated with inhibition of interleukin-10 (IL-10) production. Conversely, we have observed that S-enantiomers reduce IL-6 production at a concentration 100 times higher than that able to inhibit cyclooxygenase activity. The unwanted pro-inflammatory effects of S-isomers through TNF and IL-10 production could therefore hinder their analgesic effect, that is, at least in part, related to IL-6 inhibition. In addition, TNF amplification by S-isomers could be correlated to the clinical evidence of their gastric toxicity. On the other hand, R-isomers did not affect TNF and IL-10 production even at cyclooxygenase-blocking concentration, while they reduced IL-6 production to the same levels as S-isomers. It is concluded that the regulation of cytokine production by S-isomers of 2-arylpropionic acids could partially mask their therapeutic effects and could be correlated to the clinical evidence of their higher gastric toxicity. On the other hand, IL-6 inhibition without the unwanted effects on TNF and IL-10 production shown by R-isomers could be correlated to the analgesic effect reported for R-2-arylpropionic acids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Flurbiprofen / chemistry
  • Flurbiprofen / pharmacology
  • Ibuprofen / chemistry
  • Ibuprofen / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Ketoprofen / chemistry
  • Ketoprofen / pharmacology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Flurbiprofen
  • Ketoprofen
  • Dinoprostone
  • Ibuprofen