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J Asthma. 2000 Jun;37(4):361-70.

Chronic effects of inhaled albuterol on beta-adrenoceptor system function in human respiratory cells.

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Department of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


The in vivo effects of beta-adrenergic receptor (betaAR) agonists given chronically by metered-dose inhaler (MDI) on the molecular components of the beta-adrenoceptor system expressed by human respiratory cells are poorly understood. This study examined the effects of inhaled albuterol (180 microg four times daily for 7 days) on betaAR function of airway epithelial cells (AECs) and alveolar macrophages (AMs) freshly isolated from 10 normal subjects. Responses were related to beta2AR genotype in codons 16 and 27, regions which affect chronic responses to beta2-agonists. In AEC, betaAR density and adenosine cyclic 3',5'-phosphate (cAMP) production in response to isoproterenol (ISO) were significantly lower in the albuterol versus placebo treatment arm (p < 0.01 for both). Moreover, in AEC, albuterol treatment increased betaAR-kinase (betaARK) protein immunoreactivity. In contrast, in AM, albuterol tended to decrease betaAR density and cAMP production but changes did not achieve statistical significance (p > 0.20 for both) and had no effect on betaARK immunoreactivity. Changes in betaAR density occurred in all subjects but tended to be greater in subjects with the glycine 16 genotype. In cultured cells exposed to equal concentrations of beta-agonist in vitro, the magnitude of betaAR down-regulation (p < 0.05) and cAMP densensitization (p < 0.05) was greater in AEC than AM. These results indicate that albuterol taken by inhalation in a therapeutically relevant dose for 1 week produces betaAR down-regulation, densensitizes the cAMP response of airway epithelial cells to a beta2-adrenergic agonist, and increases betaARK immunoreactivity. Greater densensitization of AEC than AM in response to chronic albuterol inhalation likely reflects cell type-specific responses.

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