Background: Rhinoviruses (RV), the major trigger of acute asthma exacerbations, are able to infect bronchial epithelium and induce production of pro-inflammatory, but also angiogenic and pro-fibrotic mediators. Fluticasone propionate (FP) and salmeterol (S) are clinically effective and act synergistically in controlling persistent asthma; however, their effect on virus-associated asthma is less clear.
Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the individual and combined effects of FP and S on RV-induced epithelial production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2).
Methods: Bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) were exposed in vitro to RV and were subsequently treated with FP and S, at physiologically relevant concentrations, alone or in combination. VEGF and FGF-2 were measured in the supernatants of these cultures using ELISA.
Results: FP was able to reduce RV-induced VEGF production in a dose-dependent manner. S also induced a smaller reduction; addition of both factors inhibited VEGF synergistically. FGF-2 production was not inhibited by either FP or S alone, but was significantly reduced when both substances were present in the culture.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that FP and S may synergistically inhibit the production of angiogenic and/or pro-fibrotic factors that are induced after RV infection of BEAS-2B and are implicated in airway remodelling, suggesting that this combination may represent an important therapeutic option on virus-induced asthma.