(S)-Albuterol activates pro-constrictory and pro-inflammatory pathways in human bronchial smooth muscle cells

Devendra K. Agrawal, Krishan Ariyarathna, Peter W. Kelbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Background: Pro-constrictory and proinflammatory properties of (S)-albuterol have been widely reported both under in vivo and in vitro conditions. However, underlying mechanisms are unclear. Objective: We examined and compared the cellular effects of albuterol enantiomers on key intracellular molecules involved in constrictory and inflammatory pathways in human bronchial smooth muscle cells (hBSMCs). Methods: Primary hBSMCs were grown in culture and treated with various concentrations of albuterol enantiomers for various periods. Methacholine was used to stimulate cells. The expression and activity of Gs and Gi proteins, the intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), the activity of phosphatidylinositol 3′-OH-kinase (PI3) kinase, and the transcriptional nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) level were examined. Results: There was a significant increase in the expression and activity of Giα-1 protein and a decrease in the expression of Gs protein in hBSMCs after 8 hours of treatment with (S)-albuterol. These effects of (S)-albuterol were observed in a dose-dependent manner. Nonreceptor-mediated activation of adenylate cyclase by forskolin was attenuated with (S)-albuterol. Treatment of the cells for 24 hours with (S)-albuterol significantly increased [Ca 2+]i on stimulation with methacholine. Interestingly, the effect of (R)-albuterol was opposite to that of (S)-albuterol. The effect of the racemic albuterol in some cases was similar to that of (S)-albuterol. (S)-Albuterol significantly activated both PI3 kinase and NF-κB in hBSMCs. Conclusion: These studies demonstrated an (S)-albuterol-induced increase in the expression and activity of pro-constrictory pathways involving G iα-1 protein and [Ca2+]i and a decrease in the activity of the bronchodilatory pathway involving Gs proteins in hBSMCs. Additionally, (S)-albuterol activated proinflammatory pathways involving PI3 kinase and NF-κB. Because (S)-albuterol metabolizes at least 10-fold slower than (R)-albuterol and has a longer elimination half-life, these cellular effects of (S)-albuterol might explain the detrimental effect seen with chronic administration of racemic albuterol in the treatment of airway diseases, such as bronchial asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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