Cyclooxygenase (COX; EC: 184.108.40.206), the key enzyme in prostaglandin production in the human body, is a major pharmacological target for developing anti-inflammatory agents. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities when inhibiting COX-2 but cause gastrointestinal toxicity and other side effects because of concurrent inhibition of COX-1. Thus, potent and safe inhibitors against COX-2 are urgently required. We constructed a novel docking-based pharmacophore model for screening selective COX-2 inhibitors and discovered compounds S1, S2, S3, and S4, which apparently inhibit COX-2. Particularly, S4 inhibits COX-2 in vitro and shows a potent anti-inflammatory effect in vivo without cytotoxicity. Molecular docking analyses revealed that S4 interacted satisfactorily with the active site of COX-2 but not with that of COX-1. This reveals that S4 more specifically inhibits COX-2 and has potential for application in developing anti-inflammatory and anticancer agents.
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