REVIEW The exact mechanism of action of ibuprofen is unknown. Ibuprofen is a non-selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme invovled in prostaglandin synthesis via the arachidonic acid pathway. Its pharmacological effects are believed to be due to inhibition cylooxygenase-2 (COX-2) which decreases the synthesis of prostaglandins involved in mediating inflammation, pain, fever and swelling. Antipyretic effects may be due to action on the hypothalamus, resulting in an increased peripheral blood flow, vasodilation, and subsequent heat dissipation. Inhibition of COX-1 is thought to cause some of the side effects of ibuprofen including GI ulceration. Ibuprofen is administered as a racemic mixture. The R-enantiomer undergoes extensive interconversion to the S-enantiomer in vivo. The S-enantiomer is believed to be the more pharmacologically active enantiomer.
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