Antioxidant Function of Ambroxol in Mononuclear and Polymorphonuclear Cells in Vitro
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This study quantifies the antioxidant function of ambroxol (2-amino-3,5-dibromo-N-[trans-4-hydroxycyclohexyl]benzylamine) in vitro. Polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) and mononuclear cells were isolated from the blood of healthy volunteers (n= 46) to determine reactive oxygen species (ROS) by luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence. Ambroxol or the controls N-acetylcysteine (NAC), nacystelyn (NAL), glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and the combination of SOD/catalase were incubated for 1 or 2 h with zymosan-activated cells in vitro using concentrations ranging from 10−6 to 10−3 mol/liter. Reduction of ROS-mediated luminescence was similar within the cell types. Ambroxol (10−4 mol/liter) reduced ROS about 75% (1-h incubation) and 98% (2-h incubation), respectively (p < 0.001). SOD and SOD/catalase, but not the H2O2-catalyzing substances (NAC, NAL, GSH, and catalase), reduced cellular ROS. This indicates that inflammatory cells predominantly generate O−2, which can be scavenged by ambroxol. The antioxidant function of ambroxol with increasing incubation time suggests additional cellular antiinflammatory properties of this substance. Our results indicate that good antioxidant function of ambroxol is related mainly to direct scavenger function of reactive oxygen metabolites such as O−2. However, an antioxidative effect of ambroxol may also be associated with the reduction of prooxidative metabolism in inflammatory cells. Concluding from this observation, and because of the well known high affinity of ambroxol for lung tissue, ambroxol may be an alternative in antioxidant augmentation therapy, particularly in pulmonary diseases characterized by an overburden of toxic oxygen metabolites.
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