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Exp Physiol. 2013 Mar;98(3):665-78. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2012.070524. Epub 2012 Nov 23.

Adrenal hormone deprivation affects macrophage catecholamine metabolism and β2-adrenoceptor density, but not propranolol stimulation of tumour necrosis factor-α production.

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  • 1Immunology Research Center 'Branislav Janković', Vojvode Stepe 458, 11221 Belgrade, Serbia.


Catecholamines modulate the production of inflammatory mediators by macrophages in an autocrine/paracrine manner. They also tune β2-adrenoceptor expression. Glucocorticoids influence catecholamine metabolism and adrenoceptor expression in many cell types. We hypothesized that adrenal hormones affect the production of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and NO by macrophages by altering the modulatory influence of catecholamines. To prove the hypothesis, peritoneal exudate macrophages from propranolol-treated non-operated and adrenalectomized rats and from corticosterone-supplemented adrenalectomized rats were examined for lipopolysaccharide-stimulated NO and TNF-α production in vitro and for expression of β2-adrenoceptors and major catecholamine-metabolizing enzymes. Glucocorticoid deprivation increased NO production by macrophages, whereas 4 days of propranolol treatment was ineffective in this respect. However, propranolol treatment, via β2-adrenoceptor blockade, increased production of TNF-α by macrophages in both non-operated and adrenalectomized rats (showing dramatically enhanced TNF-α production due to a lack of circulating glucocorticoids) for the same value. The expression of β2-adrenoceptor was increased in peritoneal macrophages that were freshly isolated from non-operated, propranolol-treated and adrenalectomized rats (due to adrenal catecholamine deficiency). Propranolol did not affect macrophage β2-adrenoceptor expression in adrenalectomized rats. Given that propranolol increased the density of macrophage tyrosine hydroxylase expression only in non-operated rats and affected the mRNA expression of monoamine oxidase-A in neither non-operated nor adrenalectomized animals, a significant influence of propranolol on peritoneal exudate cell noradrenaline content was found only in non-operated rats. A lack of circulating adrenal hormones also affected noradrenaline metabolism and content in peritoneal exudate cells including macrophages. Collectively, despite differences in the abundance of macrophage catecholamine-β2-adrenoceptor system components and in the TNF-α response to lipopolysaccharide between adrenalectomized and non-operated rats, propranolol increased TNF-α production by the same amount in macrophages from these two groups of animals.

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