Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and colleagues have demonstrated for the first time in humans in a randomized clinical trial that low-dose aspirin - dosages equivalent to one baby aspirin (81 mg) - trigger the body to generate its own anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight unwanted inflammation.
This finding has implications for heart disease, arthritis and many other diseases, which are now recognized to be associated with inflammation. This research, which is published in the October 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), demonstrates that aspirin, a COX-1 inhibitor, unlike COX-2 inhibitors, also generates "good" anti-inflammatory compounds necessary to fight disease.
"For the first time, researchers now have clinical evidence that low-dose aspirin triggers the body to produce its own anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight disease," said senior author BWH’s Professor Charles Serhan, PhD, a biochemist and expert in inflammation research. "In addition, we now better understand the differences between COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors which will allow clinicians to better evaluate therapies for aspirin preventative measures against heart disease."
The research team conducted a randomized clinical trial with 128 healthy adults who were allocated a placebo or a low (81-mg), medium (325-mg) or high (650-mg) dose of aspirin for eight weeks. Researchers then measured levels of ATL (anti-inflammatory 15-epi-lipoxin A4) - a known anti-inflammatory compound discovered earlier in Serhan’s laboratory at BWH - and found that in the low-dose group, ATL levels significantly increased. Hence, for the first time doctors could monitor an individual’s ATL to get insight into the potential beneficial impact of low dose aspirin and its anti-inflammatory properties.