Objective: We have evaluated the efficacy of the selective cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitor, rofecoxib, for the prevention of experimental colitis.
Material and methods: To induce colitis BALB/c mice received 5% dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) in their drinking water continuously for 7 days. Rofecoxib (2.5-10 mg/kg body weight, p.o.) was administered throughout the treatment period with DSS. Colitis was quantified by a clinical damage score, colon length, weight loss, stool consistency and rectal bleeding. Inflammatory response was assessed by neutrophil infiltration, determined by histology and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity. Interleukin (IL)-1beta, prostaglandin (PG)E2 and PGD2 levels in colon mucosa and the immunohistochemical expression of COX-1 and -2 were also studied.
Results: The COX-2 inhibitor ameliorated severe colitis, reduced the degree of inflammation through reduction of neutrophil infiltration and IL-1beta levels. PGE2, and PGD2 synthesis were significantly reduced in DSS-treated groups. Indeed, treatment with rofecoxib diminished the lost of COX-1 caused by DSS in the crypt epithelium whereas expression of COX-2 remained unaffected.
Conclusions: Rofecoxib is protective in acute DSS-induced colitis, probably by reducing neutrophil infiltration, inhibiting up-regulation of IL-1beta and returning to normal COX-1 expression in the inflamed colonic mucosa.