BACKGROUND: Aspirin is one of the most widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is also a commonly used anti-platelet drug, which inhibits the formation of the platelet activator, thromboxane A2 (TxA2) via inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1). However, the presence of a patient subset that fails to respond to aspirin despite reduced TxA2 concentrations suggests that the effect of aspirin might be more complex than exclusive COX-1 inhibition.
METHODS: In this study we evaluated the impact of in vivo oral administration of a standard anti-platelet dose (75 mg) of aspirin in healthy volunteers on the acute impact of in vitro collagen-mediated platelet aggregation and generation of platelet-derived TxA2 and the 12-lipoxygenase (LOX) metabolite 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE). The eicosanoids were quantified using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).
RESULTS: Low-dose aspirin administration not only inhibited TxA2 generation but also decreased the production of 12-HETE. Furthermore, a significant correlation was observed between the levels of 12-HETE and collagen-induced platelet aggregation. Pre-treatment of platelets with the 12-LOX inhibitor, baicalein, prior to activation attenuated platelet aggregation.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings support a role for 12-HETE as a pro-aggregatory eicosanoid in platelet function and suggest a role for 12-HETE in variable sensitivity to aspirin. The study also highlights a potentially important mechanism by which aspirin impacts upon eicosanoid generation.