Original Article

Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology

, Volume 369, Issue 2, pp 151-159

First online:

Comparative pharmacology of human β-adrenergic receptor subtypes—characterization of stably transfected receptors in CHO cells

  • C. HoffmannAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Würzburg
  • , M. R. LeitzAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Würzburg
  • , S. Oberdorf-MaassAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Würzburg
  • , M. J. LohseAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Würzburg
  • , K.-N. KlotzAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Würzburg Email author 

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Although many β1-receptor antagonists and β2-receptor agonists have been used in pharmacotherapy for many years their pharmacological properties at all three known subtypes of β-adrenergic receptors are not always well characterized. The aim of this study was, therefore, to provide comparative binding characteristics of agonists (epinephrine, norepinephrine, isoproterenol, fenoterol, salbutamol, salmeterol, terbutalin, formoterol, broxaterol) and antagonists (propranolol, alprenolol, atenolol, metoprolol, bisoprolol, carvedilol, pindolol, BRL 37344, CGP 20712, SR 59230A, CGP 12177, ICI 118551) at all three subtypes of human β-adrenergic receptors in an identical cellular background. We generated Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably expressing the three β-adrenergic receptor subtypes at comparable levels. We characterized these receptor subtypes and analyzed the affinity of routinely used drugs as well as experimental compounds in competition binding studies, using the non-selective antagonist 125I-cyanopindolol as a radioligand. Furthermore, we analyzed the β-receptor-mediated adenylyl cyclase activity in isolated membranes from these cell lines. The results from our experiments show that all compounds exhibit distinct patterns of selectivity and activity at the three β-receptor subtypes. In particular, a number of β2- or β3-receptor agonists that are inverse agonists at the other subtypes were identified. In addition, β1-receptor antagonists with agonistic activity at β2- and β3-receptors were found. These specific mixtures of agonism, antagonism, and inverse agonism at different subtypes may have important implications for the therapeutic use of the respective compounds.


β-Adrenergic receptor Antagonist Inverse agonist G protein-coupled receptors Stable transfection β1-receptor β2-receptor β3-receptor