A new study published in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
suggests aspirin not only prevents the production of pain-causing compounds in the body, but also triggers an enzyme to speed the reduction of inflammation.
The enzyme, cyclooxygenase, is responsible for creating hormone-like lipid compounds called prostaglandins that are known to cause a wide variety of ailments, including arthritis and headaches. With aspirin administration, cyclooxygenase is inhibited or killed, though researchers from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine recently discovered the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug serves a second purpose: hastening the end of inflammation.
“Aspirin causes the cyclooxygenase to make a small amount of a related product called 15-HETE,” senior study author Edward A. Dennis, PhD, explained in a press release
. “During infection and inflammation, the 15-HETE can be converted by a second enzyme into lipoxin, which is known to help reverse inflammation and cause its resolution—a good thing.”
For their study, the researchers looked at the function of macrophages, a type of white blood cell that plays a role in the body’s immune response to injury. In doing so, they discovered that macrophages not only initiate inflammation, but also promote recovery from inflammation “by releasing 15-HETE and converting it into lipoxin as the inflammation progresses,” according to the press release.
Dr. Dennis noted that those findings might open doors for developing new anti-inflammatory drugs “based on analogues of lipoxin and other molecules that promote the resolution of inflammation.”
“If we can find ways to promote more resolution of inflammation, we can promote health,” Dr. Dennis concluded.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has claimed
that certain individuals might benefit from the regular consumption of aspirin. Thus, patients who have experienced a heart attack, stroke, or vascular disease might be advised to take aspirin daily.