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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2014, Article ID 105420, 9 pages
Research Article

The Beta-2-Adrenoreceptor Agonists, Formoterol and Indacaterol, but Not Salbutamol, Effectively Suppress the Reactivity of Human Neutrophils In Vitro

1Medical Research Council Unit for Inflammation and Immunity, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, P.O. Box 2034, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
2Tshwane Academic Division of the National Health Laboratory Service, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
3Division of Pulmonology, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa

Received 8 November 2013; Revised 15 January 2014; Accepted 29 January 2014; Published 6 March 2014

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Valacchi

Copyright © 2014 Ronald Anderson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The clinical relevance of the anti-inflammatory properties of beta-2 agonists remains contentious possibly due to differences in their molecular structures and agonist activities. The current study has compared the effects of 3 different categories of β2-agonists, namely, salbutamol (short-acting), formoterol (long-acting) and indacaterol (ultra-long-acting), at concentrations of 1–1000 nM, with human blood neutrophils in vitro. Neutrophils were activated with either N-formyl-L-methionyl-L-leucyl-L-phenylalanine (fMLP, 1 µM) or platelet-activating factor (PAF, 200 nM) in the absence and presence of the β2-agonists followed by measurement of the generation of reactive oxygen species and leukotriene B4, release of elastase, and expression of the β2-integrin, CR3, using a combination of chemiluminescence, ELISA, colorimetric, and flow cytometric procedures respectively. These were correlated with alterations in the concentrations of intracellular cyclic-AMP and cytosolic Ca2+. At the concentrations tested, formoterol and indacaterol caused equivalent, significant ( at 1–10 nM) dose-related inhibition of all of the pro-inflammatory activities tested, while salbutamol was much less effective ( at 100 nM and higher). Suppression of neutrophil reactivity was accompanied by elevations in intracellular cAMP and accelerated clearance of Ca2+ from the cytosol of activated neutrophils. These findings demonstrate that β2-agonists vary with respect to their suppressive effects on activated neutrophils.