Acetylsalicylic acid

Pharmacodynamic Properties

Acetylsalicylic acid inhibits the platelet activation: blocking the platelet cyclooxygenase by acetylation, it inhibits thromboxane A2 synthesis, a physiological activating substance released by the platelets and which would play a role in the complications of the atheromatosic lesions.

Inhibition of TXA2-synthesis is irreversible, because thrombocytes, which have no nucleus, are not capable (due to lack of protein synthesis capability) to synthesise new cyclooxygenase, which had been acetylated by acetylsalicylic acid.

The repeated doses from 20 to 325mg involve an inhibition of the enzymatic activity from 30 to 95%.

Due to the irreversible nature of the binding, the effect persists for the lifespan of a thrombocyte (7-10 days). The inhibiting effect does not exhaust during prolonged treatments and the enzymatic activity gradually begins again upon renewal of the platelets 24 to 48 hours after treatment interruption.

Acetylsalicylic acid extends bleeding time on average by approximately 50 to 100%, but individual variations can be observed.

Experimental data suggest that ibuprofen may inhibit the effect of low dose acetylsalicylic acid on platelet aggregation when they are dosed concomitantly.

In one study, when a single dose of ibuprofen 400mg was taken within 8 h before or within 30 min after immediate release acetylsalicylic acid dosing (81mg), a decreased effect of acetylsalicylic acid on the formation of thromboxane or platelet aggregation occurred. However, the limitations of these data and the uncertainties regarding extrapolation of ex vivo data to the clinical situation imply that no firm conclusions can be made for regular ibuprofen use, and no clinically relevant effect is considered to be likely for occasional ibuprofen use.

Pharmacokinetic Properties


After oral administration, acetylsalicylic acid is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. However, a significant portion of the dosage is already hydrolysed to salicylic acid in the intestinal wall during the absorption process.


Acetylsalicylic acid as well as the main metabolite salicylic acid, are extensively bound to plasma proteins, primarily albumin, and distributed rapidly into all parts of the body. Maximum plasma concentration is reached after 0.3-2 hours (total salicylate). The volume of distribution of acetylsalicylic acid is ca. 0.16 l/kg of body weight.


Acetylsalicylic acid is rapidly metabolised to salicylic acid, with a half-life of 15-30 minutes. Salicylic acid is subsequently predominantly converted into glycine and glucuronic acid conjugates.

Elimination kinetics of salicylic acid is dose-dependent, because the metabolism is limited by liver enzyme capacity. Thus, elimination half-time varies and is 2-3 hours after low doses (75mg–160mg).


Salicylic acid and its metabolites are predominantly excreted via the kidneys.

Preclinical Safety Data

The nonclinical safety profile of acetylsalicylic acid is well documented.

In experimental animal studies, salicylates have shown no other organ injury than renal damage. In rat studies, fetotoxicity and teratogenic effects were observed with acetylsalicylic acid at maternotoxic doses. Clinical relevance is unknown as the doses used in non-clinical studies are much higher (7 times at least) than the maximal recommended doses in targeted cardiovascular indications. Acetylsalicylic acid was extensively investigated with regard to mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. The results as a whole show no relevant signs for any mutagenic or carcinogenic effects in mice and rat studies.

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