Membrane-stabilizing, Anti-Inflammatory Interactions of Macrolides With Human Neutrophils

Inflammation. 1996 Dec;20(6):693-705. doi: 10.1007/BF01488805.


The effects of the macrolide antimicrobial agents azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin and roxithromycin on the prooxidative activity of stimulated human neutrophils have been investigated in vitro. Superoxide generation by activated neutrophils was measured by lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence. At the concentrations used (2.5-80 micrograms/ml) none of the test agents was cytotoxic, nor did they possess superoxide-scavenging properties. Treatment of neutrophils with all 4 macrolides was accompanied by dose-related inhibition of superoxide production by cells activated with FMLP or the calcium ionophore (A23187), while the responses activated by phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) or opsonized zymosan were minimally affected. The anti-oxidative interactions of roxithromycin with FMLP-activated neutrophils were neutralized by pretreatment of the cells with low, non-cytotoxic concentrations (0.5 microgram/ml) of the prooxidative, proinflammatory bioactive phospholipids, lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC), platelet-activating factor (PAF) and lyso-PAF (LPAF). Using an assay of membrane-stabilizing activity, the macrolides antagonized the membrane-disruptive effects of LPC, PAF and LPAF, without affecting enzymes involved in their synthesis. These membrane-stabilizing interactions of macrolides with neutrophils may counteract the proinflammatory, prooxidative activity of several bioactive lipids which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Azithromycin / pharmacology
  • Calcimycin / pharmacology
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Clarithromycin / pharmacology
  • Erythromycin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Ionophores / pharmacology
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines / pharmacology
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine / pharmacology
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / ultrastructure
  • Platelet Activating Factor / analogs & derivatives
  • Platelet Activating Factor / pharmacology
  • Respiratory Burst / drug effects
  • Roxithromycin / pharmacology
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Zymosan / pharmacology


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Ionophores
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines
  • O-deacetyl platelet activating factor
  • Platelet Activating Factor
  • Superoxides
  • Roxithromycin
  • Calcimycin
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine
  • Erythromycin
  • Azithromycin
  • Zymosan
  • Clarithromycin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate