Increased small intestinal permeability caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is probably a prerequisite for NSAID enteropathy, a source of morbidity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. This increased small intestinal permeability may be a summation of a local effect during drug absorption, a systemic effect after absorption, and a local effect of the drug excreted in bile, but the relative contribution made by these factors is unknown. We assessed the effect of indomethacin and nabumetone on intestinal permeability. The principal active metabolite of nabumetone, 6-methoxy-2-naphthylacetic acid, is not subject to appreciable enterohepatic recirculation. Twelve volunteers were studied before and after one week's ingestion of indomethacin (150 mg/day) and nabumetone (1 g/day) with a combined absorption/permeability test. Neither drug had a significant effect on the permeation of 3-0-methyl-D-glucose, D-xylose, and L-rhamnose. Indomethacin increased the permeation of radioactive 51chromium ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid (51Cr EDTA) significantly from baseline (mean (SEM) 0.63 (0.09)% v 1.20 (0.14)%, p less than 0.01) but nabumetone did not (0.70 (0.10)% p greater than 0.1). These results were supported by the 51Cr EDTA/L-rhamnose urine excretion ratios, which reflect changes in intestinal permeability. They suggest that NSAIDs increase intestinal permeability during absorption or after biliary excretion and that the systemic effect is of minor importance.
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