Cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors protect against mononuclear phagocyte neurotoxicity

Neurobiol Aging. 2002 Sep-Oct;23(5):787-94. doi: 10.1016/s0197-4580(02)00021-0.


Neuroinflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be contributing factors to neurodegeneration in normal aging, as well as in age-related neurological disorders. Reactive microglia are found in increased numbers in aging brain and are prominently associated with lesions in such age-related degenerative conditions as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In vitro, stimulated microglia or microglial-like cells secrete neurotoxic materials and are generators of free radicals through their respiratory burst system. Agents that suppress microglial activation are therefore candidates for neuroprotection. We have developed quantitative in vitro assays for measuring neurotoxicity of microglia or other mononuclear phagocytes. Neuronal like SH-SY5Y cells are cultured in supernatants from activated cells of the human monocytic THP-1 line and their survival is followed. Respiratory burst is directly measured on the activated cells. We tested inhibitors of the cyclooxygenase (COX) or the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) pathways as possible neuroprotective agents. The COX pathway generates inflammatory prostaglandins, while the 5-LOX pathway generates inflammatory leukotrienes. We found that inhibitors of both these pathways suppressed neurotoxicity in a dose-dependent fashion. They included the COX-1 inhibitor indomethacin; the COX-2 inhibitor NS-398; the mixed COX-1/COX-2 inhibitor ibuprofen; the nitric oxide (NO) derivatives of indomethacin, ibuprofen and flurbiprofen; the 5-LOX inhibitor REV 5901; and the 5-LOX activating protein (FLAP) inhibitor MK-886. The FLAP inhibitor also reduced respiratory burst activity in a more potent manner than indomethacin. Combinations of COX and 5-LOX inhibitors were more effective than single inhibitors. The data suggest that both COX inhibitors and 5-LOX inhibitors may be neuroprotective in vivo by suppressing toxic actions of microglia/macrophages, and that combinations of the two might have greater therapeutic potential than single inhibitors of either class.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / immunology
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / immunology
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / pharmacology
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / enzymology*
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors* / pharmacology
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / immunology
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Neuroblastoma*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitrobenzenes / pharmacology*
  • Phagocytes / immunology*
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Indoles
  • Lipoxygenase Inhibitors
  • Nitrobenzenes
  • Sulfonamides
  • MK-886
  • N-(2-cyclohexyloxy-4-nitrophenyl)methanesulfonamide
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Ibuprofen