Effects of selective COX-1 and -2 inhibition on formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour and prostaglandin E(2) release in the spinal cord

J Neurochem. 2001 Nov;79(4):777-86. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2001.00613.x.


Nociception evoked prostaglandin (PG) release in the spinal cord considerably contributes to the induction of hyperalgesia and allodynia. To evaluate the relative contribution of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and COX-2 in this process we assessed the effects of the selective COX-1 inhibitor SC560 and the selective COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib on formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour and spinal PGE(2) release. SC560 (10 and 20 mg/kg) significantly reduced the nociceptive response and completely abolished the formalin-evoked PGE(2) raise. In contrast, celecoxib (10 and 20 mg/kg) was ineffective in both regards, i.e. the flinching behaviour was largely unaltered and the formalin-induced PGE(2) raise as assessed using microdialysis was only slightly, not significantly reduced. This suggests that the formalin-evoked rapid PG release was primarily caused by COX-1 and was independent of COX-2. Mean free spinal cord concentrations of celecoxib during the formalin assay were 32.0 +/- 4.5 nM, thus considerably higher than the reported IC50 for COX-2 (3-7 nM). Therefore, the lack of efficacy of celecoxib is most likely not to be a result of poor tissue distribution. COX-2 mRNA and protein expression in the spinal cord were not affected by microdialysis alone but the mRNA rapidly increased following formalin injection and reached a maximum at 2 h. COX-2 protein was unaltered up to 4 h after formalin injection. The time course of COX-2 up-regulation suggests that the formalin-induced nociceptive response precedes COX-2 protein de novo synthesis and may therefore be unresponsive to COX-2 inhibition. Considering the results obtained with the formalin model it may be hypothesized that the efficacy of celecoxib in early injury evoked pain may be less than that of unselective NSAIDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Celecoxib
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis*
  • Formaldehyde
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Microdialysis
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects*
  • Posterior Horn Cells / chemistry
  • Posterior Horn Cells / drug effects
  • Posterior Horn Cells / metabolism
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / genetics
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Pyrazoles / analysis
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / chemistry
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology
  • Sulfonamides / analysis
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology


  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Pyrazoles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SC 560
  • Sulfonamides
  • Formaldehyde
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Ptgs1 protein, rat
  • Celecoxib
  • Dinoprostone