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BMC Pharmacol. 2007 Dec 20;7:16.

The presence of beta2-adrenoceptors sensitizes alpha2A-adrenoceptors to desensitization after chronic epinephrine treatment.

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Research Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Houston, TX, USA.



In addition to the regulation of blood pressure, alpha2- and beta-adrenoceptor (AR) subtypes play an important role in the modulation of noradrenergic neurotransmission in the human CNS and PNS. Several studies suggest that the alpha2-AR responsiveness in cells and tissues after chronic epinephrine (EPI) or norepinephrine (NE) exposure may vary, depending on the beta-AR activity present there. Recently, we reported that in BE(2)-C human neuroblastoma cells (endogenously expressing alpha2A- and beta2-AR), chronic EPI treatment (300 nM) produced a dramatic beta-adrenoceptor-dependent desensitization of the alpha2A-AR response. The aim of this study is to determine if stable addition of a beta2-AR to a second neuroblastoma cell line (SH-SY5Y), that normally expresses only alpha2A-ARs that are not sensitive to 300 nM EPI exposure, would suddenly render alpha2A-ARs in that cell line sensitive to treatment with the same EPI concentration.


These studies employed RT-PCR, receptor binding and inhibition of cAMP accumulation to confirm alpha2-AR subtype expression. Stable clones of SH-SY5Y cells transfected to stably express functional beta2-ARs (SHbeta2AR4) were selected to compare sensitivity of alpha2-AR to EPI in the presence or absence of beta2-ARs.


A series of molecular, biochemical and pharmacological studies indicated that the difference between the cell lines could not be attributed to alpha2-AR heterogeneity. We now report that after transfection of functional beta2-AR into SH-SY5Y cells (SHbeta2AR4), chronic treatment with modest levels of EPI desensitizes the alpha2A-AR. This effect results from a beta2-AR dependent down-regulation of native alpha2A-ARs by EPI accompanied by enhanced translocation of GRK2 and GRK3 to the membrane (required for GRK-mediated phosphorylation of agonist-occupied receptors).


This study further supports the hypothesis that the presence of the beta-AR renders the alpha2A-AR more susceptible to desensitization with physiological levels of EPI.

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