, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 37-41

Rapid non-genomic inhibitory effects of glucocorticoids on human neutrophil degranulation

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Background: Glucocorticoids acting as anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs have been shown to exert most of their effects genomically. Recent findings suggest that non-genomic activity might be relatively more important in mediating the therapeutic effects of high-dose pulsed glucocorticoid. However, few non-genomic anti-inflammatory effects were reported, much less non-genomic mechanisms.

Objective: This study was performed to investigate the nongenomic effects of glucocorticoids on human neutrophil degranulation.

Methods: Purified human neutrophils were pretreated with 6 α-methylprednisolone or hydrocortisone for 5 min, and then primed with N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP) (10−6 M) or phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) (50 ng/ml) in the presence of cytochalasin B. The release of two markers of neutrophil granules, lactoferrin and myeloperoxidase, was measured by ELISA and enzymology methods respectively.

Results: Both 6 α-methylprednisolone (10−5–10−4 M) and hydrocortisone (10−4 M) showed significant inhibitory effects on neutrophil degranulation within 5 min after fMLP administration. For PMA stimulated degranulation, 6 α-methylprednisolone (10−4 M) showed significant inhibitory effects (p < 0.01), while hydrocortisone (10−4 M) only showed an inhibitory tendency (P > 0.05). Neither RU486 (10−5 M) nor cycloheximide (10−4 M) could alter the inhibitory effects of glucocorticoids.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that megadoses of glucocorticoids exert rapid inhibitory effects on human neutrophil degranulation at the cellular level via a new mechanism that is independent of corticosteroid type II receptor occupation or protein synthesis. We infer that these effects may be very important when glucocorticoids act as anti-inflammatory drugs during pulse therapy.

Received 20 May 2004; returned for revision 21 July 2004; accepted by M.J. Parnham 23 September 2004
L. Liu and Y. X. Wang contributed equally to this work.