Background: Most NSAIDs function by inhibiting biosynthesis of PGE(2) by inhibition of COX-1 and/or COX-2. Since COX-1 has a protective function in the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT), non-selective inhibition of both cycloxy genases leads to moderate to severe gastro-intestinal intolerance. Attempts to identify selective inhibitors of COX-2, led to the identification of celecoxib and rofecoxib. However, long-term use of these drugs has serious adverse effects of sudden myocardial infarction and thrombosis. Drug-mediated imbalance in the levels of prostaglandin I(2) (PGI(2)) and thromboxane A(2) (TXA(2)) with a bias towards TXA(2) may be the primary reason for these events. This resulted in the drugs being withdrawn from the market, leaving a need for an effective and safe anti-inflammatory drug.
Methods: Recently, the focus of research has shifted to enzymes downstream of COX in the prosta glandin biosynthetic pathway such as prostaglandin E(2) synthases. Microsomal prostaglandin E(2) synthase-1 (mPGES-1) specifically isomerizes PGH(2) to PGE(2), under inflammatory conditions. In this review, we examine the biology of mPGES-1 and its role in disease. Progress in designing molecules that can selectively inhibit mPGES-1 is reviewed.
Conclusion: mPGES-1 has the potential to be a target for anti-inflammatory therapy, devoid of adverse GIT and cardiac effects and warrants further investigation.