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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Methylxanthine bronchodilators potentiate multiple human neutrophil functions.

Methylxanthines, including the bronchodilators theophylline and aminophylline, in high concentrations (greater than 10(-4) M) inhibit cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase activity and in low, clinically relevant concentrations (10(-5) to 10(-4) M) are antagonists of extracellular adenosine receptors. The effect of therapeutic concentrations of methylxanthines on human neutrophil functions stimulated by N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP) was examined. Preincubation of cytochalasin B-treated neutrophils with 10(-5) M to 3 X 10(-3) M methylxanthine resulted in a biphasic, concentration-dependent effect on neutrophil aggregation, lysosomal enzyme release, and superoxide anion formation. At 10(-5) to 10(-4) M, theophylline and aminophylline potentiated neutrophil aggregation, lysosomal enzyme release (30 to 50%, p less than 0.005), and superoxide anion formation (30 to 60%, p less than 0.005). 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine at these same concentrations potentiated only neutrophil aggregation and lysosomal enzyme release (30 to 40%, p less than 0.005). The three methylxanthines inhibited each response up to 90% at concentrations greater than 10(-4) M. 8-Phenyltheophylline, which does not inhibit phosphodiesterase activity, produced only potentiation. Preincubation of neutrophils with adenosine deaminase mimicked the methylxanthine potentiation, whereas addition of adenosine (3 X 10(-8) to 3 X 10(-7) M) reversed the methylxanthine-induced potentiation in a concentration-dependent manner. These results indicate that therapeutic concentrations of methylxanthines may potentiate neutrophil activation in vivo by competing with circulating adenosine for neutrophil adenosine receptors.[1]


  1. Methylxanthine bronchodilators potentiate multiple human neutrophil functions. Schmeichel, C.J., Thomas, L.L. J. Immunol. (1987) [Pubmed]
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