Ever wonder how aspirin knocks out aches? Scientists have known that medicine prevents an enzyme called cyclooxygenase from producing compounds linked to pain and inflammation, but they recently made another discovery about how aspirin works.
Edward Dennis and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researched aspirin’s effect on macrophages–white blood cells that play a role in the body’s immune response to injury. They found that in addition to killing cyclooxygenase, aspirin causes the enzyme to make a product called 15-HETE. During infection and inflammation, 15-HETE can get converted by another enzyme into lipoxin, a compound that terminates and reverses inflammation.
Researchers will likely use lipoxin and similar compounds to develop new anti-inflammatory drugs.
University of California, San Diego News Release
Dennis Lab (no longer available)