The pharmacological action of salicylates has been historically related to their ability to inhibit cyclooxygenases, thereby blocking the synthesis of prostaglandins and thromboxane A2. On the other hand, several studies have suggested that salicylates have a multitude of cyclooxygenase-independent actions specially related with their antioxidant properties, which might contribute to the overall salutary effects of these compounds. Although salicylates are well-known antioxidants through their ability to scavenge hydroxyl radical, their antioxidant mechanisms of action have not been fully compiled and characterized. In this context, several mechanisms of action have been suggested, namely i) scavenging of hydroxyl radical and chelation of transition metals; ii) upregulation of nitric oxide; iii) increased synthesis of lipoxins; iv) inhibition of neutrophil oxidative burst; v) inhibition of NF-κB and AP-1 protein kinases; and vii) inhibiton of lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor-1. The newly discovered acetyl salicylic acid-triggered lipoxins probably play a key role in the maintenance of the oxidative stress balance. Furthermore, salicylates have shown to protect low-density lipoprotein from oxidation and elicit an inhibitory effect on the expression of lectin-like receptors on endothelial cells. This review aims to provide an overview of the various proposed antioxidant mechanisms of salicylates.
Keywords: Salicylates, oxidative stress, antioxidant mechanisms, cyclooxygenases, pharmacological action, prostaglandins, thromboxane A2, cyclooxygenase-independent actions, scavenging of hydroxyl radical, chelation of transition metals
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