Aspirin helps trigger the production of molecules called resolvins - naturally made by the body from omega-3 fatty acids - which shut the inflammation that underlies bad conditions like inflammatory lung disease, heart disease and arthritis claims researchers.
Senior author Dr. Charles Serhan of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School said "In this report, we found that one resolvin, termed resolvin D3 from the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, persists longer at sites of inflammation than either resolvin D1 or resolvin D2 in the natural resolution of inflammation in mice."
The researchers also confirmed that aspirin treatment triggered the production of a longer acting form of resolvin D3 through a different pathway.
"Aspirin is able to modify an inflammatory enzyme to stop forming molecules that propagate inflammation and instead produce molecules from omega-3 fatty acids, like resolvin D3, that help inflammation to end," co-author Dr. Nicos Petasis of the University of Southern California, said.
"We were able to produce by chemical synthesis both resolvin D3 and aspirin-triggered resolvin D3 in pure form, which allowed us to establish their complete structures and biological activities," he said.
When administered to human cells, both of these resolvins demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory actions and when given to mice, the compounds also stimulated the resolution of inflammation in the body.
"We also identified the human receptor that is activated by resolvin D3, which is critical in understanding how resolvin D3 works in the body to resolve inflammation," Serhan said.
The study has been published in the Cell Press journal Chemistry and Biology.