Effect of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition with rofecoxib on endothelial dysfunction and inflammatory markers in patients with coronary artery disease
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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine whether selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibition with rofecoxib can modulate endothelial dysfunction and levels of circulating inflammatory markers in patients with established coronary artery disease (CAD). BACKGROUND: Expression of COX-2 is upregulated in atherosclerosis. Thus, it has been hypothesized that COX-2 may contribute to atherogenesis by producing eicosanoids, which mediate vascular inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. METHODS: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-design trial, we studied the vascular effects of rofecoxib on brachial artery vasoreactivity and inflammatory markers in 60 patients with angiographically proven CAD who were taking concomitant low-dose aspirin. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either rofecoxib (25 mg/day; n = 30) or placebo (n = 30) for eight weeks. Brachial artery endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilation (FMD), endothelium-independent nitroglycerin-mediated dilation (NMD), and inflammatory markers (i.e., high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [CRP], soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 [sICAM-1], and soluble interleukin-6 receptor [sIL-6r]) were measured at baseline and after eight-week follow-up. RESULTS: Baseline clinical characteristics were similar in the two groups. After eight weeks of treatment, FMD did not significantly change in either the rofecoxib or placebo group (4.0 +/- 3.0% to 4.0 +/- 3.8% vs. 2.7 +/- 2.7% to 3.1 +/- 2.7%, respectively; p = 0.6 by two-way analysis of variance). Similarly, NMD remained unchanged in both groups. Levels of CRP, sICAM-1, and sIL-6r were not significantly altered in either the rofecoxib or placebo group. CONCLUSIONS: The addition of selective COX-2 inhibition with rofecoxib did not appear to have any favorable or adverse effects on endothelial dysfunction or vascular inflammation in patients with CAD using concomitant low-dose aspirin.
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