Background: Chronic use of long-acting beta2-adrenergic receptor agonists (LABAs), resulting in beta2-adrenergic receptor desensitization, has been associated with increased asthma morbidity. When LABAs are used in combination with inhaled glucocorticoids, however, asthma control is improved, raising the following question: Do glucocorticoids inhibit the proasthmatic mechanism that mediates altered contractility in LABA-exposed airway smooth muscle (ASM)?
Objective: This study aimed to identify the potential protective role and mechanism of action of glucocorticoids in mitigating the effects of prolonged LABA exposure on ASM constrictor and relaxation responsiveness.
Methods: Cultured human ASM cells and isolated rabbit ASM tissues were examined for induced changes in agonist-mediated cyclic adenosine monophosphate accumulation, constrictor and relaxation responsiveness, and expression of specific glucocorticoid-regulated molecules after 24-hour exposure to the LABA salmeterol in the absence and presence of dexamethasone.
Results: Salmeterol-exposed ASM exhibited impaired cyclic adenosine monophosphate and relaxation responses to isoproterenol and increased acetylcholine-induced contractility. These proasthmatic effects of prolonged LABA exposure were attributed to upregulated phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) activity and were ablated by pretreatment with dexamethasone. Further studies demonstrated that (1) dexamethasone suppressed activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), which upregulate PDE4 expression in salmeterol-exposed ASM; and (2) the inhibitory actions of dexamethasone on salmeterol-induced ERK1/2 activation and resultant PDE4-mediated changes in ASM responsiveness were prevented by gene silencing or pharmacologic inhibition of dexamethasone-induced expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 1, an endogenous deactivator of ERK1/2 signaling.
Conclusion: Glucocorticoids prevent the adverse proasthmatic effects of prolonged LABA exposure on airway responsiveness as a result of glucocorticoid-induced upregulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 1, which inhibits proasthmatic ERK1/2 signaling in the LABA-exposed ASM.
Copyright 2010 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.