Why Is Indomethacin Preferred For Gout?

Indomethacin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to treat gout, a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints, leading to pain, inflammation, and swelling. In this article, we will explore why indomethacin is preferred for the treatment of gout over other NSAIDs.

Gout and Inflammation

Gout is a chronic inflammatory condition that is caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints. When these crystals accumulate, they can trigger an immune response that leads to inflammation, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs such as indomethacin work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are inflammatory mediators that play a key role in the pathogenesis of gout.

Indomethacin’s Mechanism of Action

Indomethacin works by inhibiting the activity of cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme that is involved in the production of prostaglandins. COX has two isoforms, COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 is constitutively expressed and is involved in the production of prostaglandins that protect the gastric mucosa, regulate renal blood flow, and maintain platelet function. COX-2, on the other hand, is inducible and is primarily involved in the production of inflammatory prostaglandins.

Indomethacin is a non-selective COX inhibitor, which means that it inhibits both COX-1 and COX-2. This property makes it effective in reducing inflammation and pain associated with gout. Indomethacin has a rapid onset of action, with peak plasma concentrations reached within 2 to 3 hours of administration.

Indomethacin’s Pharmacokinetics

Indomethacin is a highly lipophilic drug that is rapidly absorbed after oral administration. Its bioavailability is variable and is affected by factors such as food intake and formulation. Indomethacin is extensively metabolized in the liver, with its major metabolite being desmethylindomethacin. The elimination half-life of indomethacin is around 4.5 hours, but it can be prolonged in patients with impaired renal or hepatic function.

Indomethacin’s Adverse Effects

Like all NSAIDs, indomethacin is associated with a number of adverse effects. These include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, and diarrhea, as well as more serious complications such as peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and perforation. Other adverse effects of indomethacin include renal impairment, hypertension, and hypersensitivity reactions.

Indomethacin’s Place in Gout Treatment

Despite its potential adverse effects, indomethacin remains one of the preferred NSAIDs for the treatment of acute gout attacks. This is because it has been shown to be effective in relieving pain and inflammation associated with gout, and has a rapid onset of action. In addition, indomethacin is relatively inexpensive and is available in a variety of formulations, including capsules, suppositories, and injectable solutions.


In conclusion, indomethacin is a non-selective COX inhibitor that is effective in reducing inflammation and pain associated with gout. Its rapid onset of action and availability in multiple formulations make it a preferred NSAID for the treatment of acute gout attacks. However, its potential adverse effects should be considered when prescribing it to patients, particularly those with a history of gastrointestinal or renal complications.

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