Effects of cutaneous aspirin on the human stomach and duodenum

B. Cryer, D. Kliewer, H. Sie, L. McAllister, M. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Oral aspirin blocks cyclooxygenase in platelets, lowering serum thromboxane concentrations. Oral aspirin also blocks cyclooxygenase in the gastrointestinal mucosa, lowering prostaglandin production and increasing the risk of gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. Aspirin placed on the skin also inhibits cyclooxygenase in platelets, but aspirin absorption through skin is slow, which may minimize the gastrointestinal effects. Our objectives in this study were 1) to compare the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects of cutaneous and oral aspirin in healthy volunteers and 2) to compare the effects of cutaneous aspirin on gastroduodenal mucosal prostaglandin E2 and F(2α) content and on mucosal damage, using endoscopy. The bioavailability of cutaneous aspirin was 4%-8% that of oral aspirin. Cutaneous aspirin (750 mg/day for 10 days) significantly lowered serum thromboxane (by 85%) and gastric and duodenal prostaglandins (by 49%-71%); placebo had no effect. Moreover, cutaneous aspirin, but not placebo, resulted in significant gastric mucosal injury. These findings demonstrate that even tiny amounts of aspirin in the blood (2 μM) have inhibitory effects on prostaglandin production in the human stomach and duodenum that result in gastric mucosal damage, even without direct exposure of the stomach to aspirin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-456
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Association of American Physicians
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999


  • Cyclooxygenase
  • Platelets
  • Prostaglandins
  • Salicylate
  • Thromboxane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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