Gastrointestinal safety of NO-aspirin (NCX-4016) in healthy human volunteers: a proof of concept endoscopic study

Gastroenterology. 2003 Mar;124(3):600-7. doi: 10.1053/gast.2003.50096.


Background and aims: NCX-4016 is a nitric oxide-releasing derivative of aspirin with antiplatelet activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of NCX-4016 on gastrointestinal mucosa and platelet functions in healthy human volunteers.

Methods: This was a parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Forty healthy subjects were randomly allocated to receive 7 days of treatment with NCX-4016 (400 and 800 mg twice daily), equimolar doses of aspirin (200 and 420 mg twice daily), or placebo. Upper endoscopies were performed before and at the end of the treatment period, and gastroduodenal lesions were graded using a predefined scoring system. Basal and posttreatment platelet aggregation in response to arachidonic acid (AA) and serum thromboxane (TX) B(2) and AA-stimulated platelet TXB(2) production were investigated.

Results: Mucosal endoscopic injury score on day 7 was 0.63 +/- 0.16 in the placebo group and 11.0 +/- 3.0 and 16.1 +/- 1.6 in healthy volunteers treated with 200 and 420 mg aspirin twice daily (P < 0.0001 vs. placebo). NCX-4016 was virtually devoid of gastric and duodenal toxicity, resulting in a total gastric and duodenal endoscopic score of 1.38 +/- 0.3 and 1.25 +/- 0.5 (P < 0.0001 vs. aspirin, not significant vs. placebo). NCX-4016 inhibited AA-induced platelet aggregation as well as serum TXB(2) and platelet TXB(2) generation induced by AA to the same extent as aspirin (not significant vs. aspirin).

Conclusions: In this study, we have proven the concept that addition of an NO-donating moiety to aspirin results in a new chemical entity that maintains cyclooxygenase-1 and platelet inhibitory activity while nearly avoiding gastrointestinal damage.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Aspirin / adverse effects
  • Aspirin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspirin / pharmacology*
  • Cardiotonic Agents / adverse effects
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Digestive System / drug effects*
  • Digestive System / pathology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Placebos / adverse effects
  • Placebos / pharmacology
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Thromboxane B2 / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Placebos
  • Thromboxane B2
  • nitroaspirin
  • Aspirin