Hydrocortisone and dexamethasone dose-dependently stabilize mast cells derived from rat peritoneum

Pharmacol Rep. 2016 Dec;68(6):1358-1365. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Sep 5.


Background: Besides their anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroid drugs exert anti-allergic effects. Exocytosis of mast cells is electrophysiologically detected as the increase in the whole-cell membrane capacitance (Cm). Therefore, the lack of such increase after exposure to the drugs suggests their mast cell-stabilizing effects.

Methods: We examined the effects of 1, 10, 100 and 200μM hydrocortisone or dexamethasone on the degranulation from rat peritoneal mast cells. Employing the whole-cell patch-clamp recording technique, we also tested their effects on the Cm during exocytosis.

Results: At relatively lower concentrations (1, 10μM), both hydrocortisone and dexamethasone did not significantly affect the degranulation from mast cells and the increase in the Cm induced by GTP-γ-S. Nevertheless, at higher doses (100, 200μM), these drugs inhibited the degranulation from mast cells and markedly suppressed the GTP-γ-S-induced increase in the Cm.

Conclusions: Our results provided electrophysiological evidence for the first time that corticosteroid drugs, such as hydrocortisone and dexamethasone, inhibited the exocytotic process of mast cells in a dose-dependent manner. The mast cell-stabilizing effects of these drugs may be attributable to their "non-genomic" action, by which they exert rapid anti-allergic effects.

Keywords: Dexamethasone; Exocytosis; Hydrocortisone; Mast cell-stabilizing effects; Mast cells; Membrane capacitance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Degranulation / drug effects*
  • Cell Degranulation / physiology
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / drug effects*
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Peritoneum / drug effects*
  • Peritoneum / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Dexamethasone
  • Hydrocortisone