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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Sep 15;172(6):704-12. Epub 2005 Apr 28.

Glucocorticoid receptor nuclear translocation in airway cells after inhaled combination therapy.

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Airways Disease Section, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY, UK.


Clinical evidence is accumulating for the efficacy of adding inhaled long-acting beta(2)-agonists (LABAs) to corticosteroids in asthma. Corticosteroids bind to cytoplasmic glucocorticoid receptors (GRs), which then translocate to the nucleus where they regulate gene expression. This article reports the first evidence in vivo of an interaction between inhaled LABA and corticosteroid on GR nuclear translocation in human airway cells using immunocytochemistry. We initially demonstrated significant GR activation 60 minutes after inhalation of 800 microg beclomethasone dipropionate in six healthy subjects. Subsequently, we determined the effects of salmeterol and fluticasone propionate (FP) in seven steroid-naive patients with asthma. We observed dose-dependent GR activation with 100- and 500-microg doses of FP, and to a lesser extent with 50 microg salmeterol alone. However, combination therapy with 100 microg FP and salmeterol augmented the action of FP on GR nuclear localization. In vitro, salmeterol enhanced FP effects on GR nuclear translocation in epithelial and macrophage-like airway cell lines. In addition, salmeterol in combination with FP enhanced glucocorticoid response element (GRE)-luciferase reporter gene activity and mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 1 (MKP-1) and secretory leuko-proteinase inhibitor (SLPI) gene induction. Together, our data confirm that GR nuclear translocation may underlie the complementary interactions between LABAs and corticosteroids, although the precise signal transduction mechanisms remain to be determined.

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