Background: Several in vitro studies demonstrate that corticosteroids and long-acting beta(2) agonists may have a complementary and synergistic mode of action on the inflammatory processes in asthma.
Methods: Sputum was induced in 20 mild to moderate asthmatic patients and the induced sputum cells (ISC) were cultured with beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) 10(-7) M, salbutamol 10(-8) M and formoterol 10(-8) M either alone or in combination, BDP plus salbutamol and BDP plus formoterol, for 24 h. We measured the levels of growth macrophages-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), released on activation normal T cells expressed and activated (RANTES) and interleukin-8 (IL-8), in the supernatant of stimulated cells by ELISA. Furthermore, we assessed nuclear translocation of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the expression of beta(2) receptor in ISC by immunofluorescence and RT-PCR, respectively.
Results: The release of GM-CSF, RANTES and IL-8 in ISC was significantly reduced by BDP plus salbutamol or formoterol as compared with either drug alone (P < 0.0001). beta(2) receptor expression was increased after 30 min of incubation with BDP and continued to increase over a time period of 4 h (P < 0.0001). Furthermore after 30 min of incubation, nuclear translocation of GR was greater with BDP plus salbutamol or formoterol than with any of the drugs alone (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: The present ex vivo study demonstrates a complementary mode of action between BDP and salbutamol or formoterol leading to an enhanced anti-inflammatory activity.