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Flurbiprofen–antioxidant mutual prodrugs as safer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: synthesis, pharmacological investigation, and computational molecular modeling

Authors Ashraf Z, Alamgeer, Kanwal M, Hassan M, Abdullah S, Waheed M, Ahsan H, Kim SJ

Received 26 March 2016

Accepted for publication 8 May 2016

Published 27 July 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 2401—2419


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Wei Duan

Zaman Ashraf,1,2 Alamgeer,3 Munazza Kanwal,1 Mubashir Hassan,2 Sahar Abdullah,3 Mamuna Waheed,3 Haseeb Ahsan,3 Song Ja Kim2

1Department of Chemistry, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, Pakistan; 2Department of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Kongju National University, Gongju, Republic of Korea; 3Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan

Flurbiprofen–antioxidant mutual prodrugs were synthesized to reduce the gastrointestinal (GI) effects associated with flurbiprofen. For reducing the GI toxicity, the free carboxylic group (–COOH) was temporarily masked by esterification with phenolic –OH of natural antioxidants vanillin, thymol, umbelliferone, and sesamol. The in vitro hydrolysis of synthesized prodrugs showed that they were stable in buffer solution at pH 1.2, indicating their stability in the stomach. The synthesized prodrugs undergo significant hydrolysis in 80% human plasma and thus release free flurbiprofen. The minimum reversion was observed at pH 1.2, ­suggesting that prodrugs are less irritating to the stomach than flurbiprofen. The anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic, and ulcerogenic activities of prodrugs were evaluated. All the synthesized prodrugs significantly (P<0.001) reduced the inflammation against carrageenan and egg albumin-induced paw edema at 4 hours of study. The reduction in the size of the inflamed paw showed that most of the compounds inhibited the later phase of inflammation. The prodrug 2-oxo-2H-chromen-7-yl-2-(2-fluorobiphenyl-4-yl)propanoate (4b) showed significant reduction in paw licking with percentage inhibition of 58%. It also exhibited higher analgesic activity, reducing the number of writhes with a percentage of 75%, whereas flurbiprofen showed 69% inhibition. Antipyretic activity was investigated using brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia model, and significant (P<0.001) reduction in rectal temperature was shown by all prodrugs at all times of assessment. The results of ulcerogenic activity showed that all prodrugs produced less GI irritation than flurbiprofen. Molecular docking and simulation studies were carried out with cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) proteins, and it was observed that our prodrugs have more potential to selectively bind to COX-2 than to COX-1. It is concluded that the synthesized prodrugs have promising pharmacological activities with reduced GI adverse effects than the parent drug.

Keywords: flurbiprofen prodrugs, natural antioxidants, molecular docking, molecular dynamic simulation, pharmacological investigation, NSAIDs

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