The molecular mechanism by which indomethacin exerts its inhibitory effects on the prostaglandin endoperoxide synthetase enzyme is unknown. In the present study we have explored the possibility that indomethacin might interact with Fe++ in the enzyme to produce its inhibitory effect. For this study we made use of the recent discovery that Fe++ alone can oxidize arachidonic acid, and the interaction of this fatty acid with the metal can be detected by following reduction of nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) or by conversion of the Fe++ to Fe+++. Indomethacin markedly inhibited NBT reduction in the presence of arachidonic acid and Fe++ when the indomethacin had been preincubated with the Fe++. Indomethacin also inhibited the conversion of Fe++ to Fe+++ by arachidonic acid. Results obtained by varying the concentrations of indomethacin and arachidonic acid and measuring inhibition of the conversion of Fe++ to Fe+++ by the indomethacin are consistent with a one to one complex forming between indomethacin and Fe++. The complex between indomethacin and Fe++ separates on prolonged incubation of the complex with arachidonic acid. The nature of the binding is suggested by a molecular model. Our results suggest that indomethacin may act to inhibit the prostaglandin endoperoxide synthetase enzyme by complexing Fe++ in the enzyme. Ibuprofen and tolmetin, two other prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors, also inhibit the interaction of Fe++ with arachidonic acid suggesting this may be a general mechanism for this type of drug.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of Drs. R. Borch and A.C. Cox, the artwork of L. Richter and the support of USPHS grants HL-11880, A,-06317, HL-06314, CA-12607, CA-08832, CA-11996, GM-AM-22167, HL-20695, HL-16833, AM-15317 and a grant from the Leukemia Task Force.