Comparative study of anti-inflammatory, ulcerogenic and cytotoxic activities of racemate and S-ibuprofen

  • Flavio Henrique Nuevo Benez
  • Caroline Candida de Oliveira
  • Simone Coghetto Acedo
  • Erica Martins Ferreira Gotardo
  • Lara Ester Câmara
  • Silvana Calafatti
  • Patricia Oliveira Carvalho
  • Alessandra Gambero
Keywords: Ibuprofen. Enantiomers. Air pouch model. PGE 2. Gastric ulcers.


Ibuprofen is widely commercialized in racemic form. Although metabolic chiral inversion occurs through the conversion of R(-)-ibuprofen to S(+)-ibuprofen and the latter enantiomer is considered the active form, clinical trials involving the administration of a racemate to S-enantiomer dosage ratio of 1:0.5 have demonstrated that S(+)-ibuprofen is as efficacious as the racemic formulation. Moreover, the R(-)-enantiomer has been implicated in adverse gastrointestinal effects found with the racemic form, but the mechanisms involved in this process are not yet fully understood. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the anti-inflammatory activity of a racemate to S(+)-ibuprofen dosage ratio of 1:0.5 using the carrageenan air pouch model of inflammation and determine both ulcerogenic activity and the chiral conversion rate in rats. An in vitro study of the cytotoxicity of racemate and S(+)-ibuprofen in gastric cells was also performed. Although the plasma level of S(+)-ibuprofen was raised after racemate administration, no significant difference was found in anti-inflammatory activity, as assessed by exudate formation, PGE2 production and leukocyte migration to the air pouches. Fewer gastric lesions were found after S(+)-ibuprofen administration, despite the low gastric PGE2 content. In the in vitro study, the racemic compound proved more cytotoxic than S(+)-ibuprofen. The present findings suggest that the S-enantiomer of ibuprofen could be considered a therapeutic alternative to minimize gastrointestinal side effects, since the chiral inversion of R(-)-ibuprofen to S(+)-ibuprofen did not result in an improved anti-inflammatory response.

Research Article