The American review of respiratory disease

Erythromycin inhibits respiratory glycoconjugate secretion from human airways in vitro.

PMID 2404441


Erythromycin and other antibiotics have been used empirically in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We studied whether this empirical role of antibiotics might not be related to a possible direct effect on respiratory glycoconjugate (RGC) secretion. The effect of erythromycin on RGC secretion and hypersecretion was studied in an in vitro preparation of human airways that were secreting [3H]glucosamine respiratory glycoconjugate (RGC), and on a human endometrial adenocarcinoma cell line secreting a glycoconjugate (tumor glycoconjugate = TGC) chemically similar to the RGC secreted by the airways. Erythromycin at 10(-5) M reduced RGC secretion by 35 +/- 4% (n = 9, p less than 0.001) in both human airways and the adenocarcinoma cells, and was increasingly active in the pharmacologic range of 10(-7) to 10(-4) M. The inhibitory effect of erythromycin was maximal within 16 h and was still evident 34 h after incubation. Erythromycin was noted to reduce both spontaneous (baseline) and stimulated RGC secretion (by histamine and methacholine) from airways in culture. The blocking effect appeared to be more selective for histamine than methacholine. These effects were not associated with any toxicity to the tissues and were not associated with the inhibition of protein synthesis. Dexamethasone also inhibited RGC release in both assay systems and exhibited dose-related effects in the physiologic ranges (10(-9) to 10(-5) M). When administered together, erythromycin and dexamethasone had an additive inhibitory effect on RGC secretion (68.0 +/- 3.0%, n = 7, p less than 0.001).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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Erythromycin, tested according to Ph.Eur.