Indomethacin is a prostaglandin G/H synthase (also known as cyclooxygenase or COX) inhibitor that acts on both prostaglandin G/H synthase 1 and 2 (COX-1 and -2). Prostaglandin G/H synthase catalyzes the conversion of arachidonic acid to a number of prostaglandins involved in fever, pain, swelling, inflammation, and platelet aggregation. Indomethacin antagonizes COX by binding to the upper portion of the active site, preventing its substrate, arachidonic acid, from entering the active site. Indomethacin, unlike other NSAIDs, also inhibits phospholipase A2, the enzyme responsible for releasing arachidonic acid from phospholipids. Indomethacin is more selective for COX-1 than COX-2, which accounts for its increased adverse gastric effects relative to other NSAIDs. COX-1 is required for maintaining the protective gastric mucosal layer. The analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects of indomethacin occur as a result of decreased prostaglandin synthesis. Its antipyretic effects may be due to action on the hypothalamus, resulting in an increased peripheral blood flow, vasodilation, and subsequent heat dissipation.
Indomethacin, a NSAIA, with analgesic and antipyretic properties exerts its pharmacological effects by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins involved in pain, fever, and inflammation. Indomethacin inhibits the catalytic activity of the COX enzymes, the enzymes responsible for catalyzing the rate-limiting step in prostaglandin synthesis via the arachidonic acid pathway. Indomethacin is known to inhibit two well-characterized isoforms of COX, COX-1 and COX-2, with greater selectivity for COX-1. COX-1 is a constitutively expressed enzyme that is involved in gastric mucosal protection, platelet and kidney function. It catalyzes the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandin (PG) G2 and PGG2 to PGH2. COX-1 is involved in the synthesis pathways of PGE2, PGD2, PDF2a, PGI2 (also known as prostacyclin) and thromboxane A2 (TXA2). COX-2 is constitutively expressed and highly inducible by inflammatory stimuli. It is found in the central nervous system, kidneys, uterus and other organs. It also catalyzes the conversion of arachidonic acid to PGG2 and PGG2 to PGH2. In the COX-2-mediated pathway, PGH2 is subsequently converted to PGE2 and PGI2 (also known as prostacyclin). PGE2 is involved in mediating inflammation, pain and fever. Decreasing levels of PGE2 leads to decreased inflammation.
The following symptoms may be observed following overdosage: nausea, vomiting, intense headache, dizziness, mental confusion, disorientation, or lethargy. There have been reports of paresthesias, numbness, and convulsions. The oral LD50 of indomethacin in mice and rats (based on 14 day mortality response) was 50 and 12 mg/kg, respectively.