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It has been variably suggested that nonselective NSAIDs and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 selective inhibitors aggravate or ameliorate clinical disease activity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. We assessed the effect of these drugs in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (n = 209) and the possible mechanisms. First, patients with quiescent Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis received the non-NSAID analgesic acetaminophen (n = 26) and the conventional NSAIDs naproxen (n = 32), diclofenac (n = 29), and indomethacin (n = 22) for 4 weeks. The Harvey-Bradshaw index was used to define relapse. Second, to assess the mechanism of relapse, intestinal inflammation was quantitated (fecal calprotectin) before and during treatment (20 patients/group) with acetaminophen, naproxen (topical effect, COX-1 and -2 inhibitor), nabumetone (COX-1 and -2 inhibitor), nimesulide (selective COX-2 inhibitor), and low-dose aspirin (selective COX-1 inhibition). Nonselective NSAIDs were associated with a 17%-28% relapse rate within 9 days of ingestion. No patient had an early relapse on acetaminophen, nimesulide, or aspirin, whereas those on naproxen and nabumetone (20%) experienced relapse. These clinical relapses were associated with escalating intestinal inflammatory activity. NSAID ingestion is associated with frequent and early clinical relapse of quiescent inflammatory bowel disease, and the mechanism appears to be due to dual inhibition of the COX enzymes. Selective COX-2 inhibition with nimesulide and COX-1 inhibition with low-dose aspirin appear to be well-tolerated in the short-term.


Ken Takeuchi, Simon Smale, Purushothaman Premchand, Laurence Maiden, Roy Sherwood, Bjarni Thjodleifsson, Einar Bjornsson, Ingvar Bjarnason. Prevalence and mechanism of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced clinical relapse in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. 2006 Feb;4(2):196-202

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PMID: 16469680

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