COX-2 is an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain. Natural compounds and pharmaceutical products can exhibit COX-2 inhibitory effects at two different levels. Due in part to their complexity, some natural products contain synergistic compounds so COX-2 can be inhibited at both levels:
- The expression (i.e. intracellular production) of the COX-2 enzyme;
- Once the enzyme is produced, products may inhibit the enzyme function.
NIS Labs performs testing of natural products at both levels, using cellular assays. The testing of COX-2 expression is performed by pretreating cells with the natural product, then triggering an inflammatory reaction to increase the expression of COX-2 (i.e. the relative number of COX-2 enzymes per cell). The expression is evaluated using intracellular staining for COX-2 enzyme, and measured by flow cytometry.
The testing of COX-2 enzymatic activity is tested in cell cultures by measuring the amount of prostaglandin production by the cells.