Background: Most nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit both cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), whose inhibition is associated with gastrointestinal ulceration, and COX-2, whose inhibition is associated with therapeutic benefits. Although agents that do not produce COX-1 activity may have fewer adverse effects, targeted disruption of the COX-2 allele in mice has resulted in severe renal problems, suggesting that COX-2 inhibition may also produce adverse effects.
Objective: To determine the effect of rofecoxib, a member of the coxib class of drugs and a specific inhibitor of the COX-2 enzyme, on renal function in elderly patients.
Design: A randomized, three-period, single-dose crossover study and a randomized, parallel-group, multiple-dose study.
Setting: Clinical research units.
Patients: 75 patients 60 to 80 years of age.
Intervention: In the first study, single doses of rofecoxib, 250 mg (about 5-fold to 20-fold the recommended dose); indomethacin, 75 mg; and placebo were administered to 15 patients. In the second study, multiple doses of rofecoxib, 12.5 or 25 mg/d; indomethacin, 50 mg three times daily; or placebo were administered to 60 patients. Patients in both studies received a low-sodium diet.
Measurements: Glomerular filtration rate, creatinine clearance, and urinary and serum sodium and potassium values.
Results: Compared with placebo, single doses of rofecoxib and indomethacin decreased the glomerular filtration rate by 0.23 mL/s (P < 0.001) and 0.18 mL/s (P = 0.003), respectively. In contrast, respective decreases of 0.14, 0.13, and 0.10 mL/s were observed after multiple doses of rofecoxib, 12.5 mg/d (P = 0.019); rofecoxib, 25 mg (P = 0.029), and indomethacin (P = 0.086) were administered. Changes in creatinine clearance and serum and urinary sodium and potassium were less pronounced.
Conclusions: The effects of COX-2 inhibition on renal function are similar to those observed with nonselective NSAIDs. Thus, COX-2 seems to play an important role in human renal function.