Selected functions of alveolar macrophages obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage of 12 healthy smokers were examined before and after eight weeks' treatment with an inhaled glucocorticosteroid, budesonide (400 micrograms twice daily). After budesonide treatment spontaneous as well as opsonised zymosan triggered prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) secretion from harvested cells was reduced; no such reduction in opsonised zymosan triggered leukotriene B4 (LTB4) production was observed. Neither the capacity to phagocytose opsonised yeast particles nor the superoxide radical generation triggered by the calcium ionophore A23187, 4 beta-phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), or opsonised zymosan ex vivo were more than marginally affected by the glucocorticosteroid treatment in vivo. Lavage fluid concentrations of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), however, after treatment were twice those before treatment and concentrations of fibronectin were reduced to half. Albumin concentrations in lavage fluid were not affected by the glucocorticosteroid treatment. In separate experiments treatment of alveolar macrophages with 10(-7) or 10(-6) M budesonide overnight in vitro did not affect their superoxide radical or PGE2 generation but significantly blocked LTB4 release. These data indicate that inhaled gluco-corticosteroid treatment may affect synthesis or release (or both) of ACE and fibronectin by alveolar macrophages from healthy smokers whereas other functions of these cells, such as the generation of reactive oxygen derived products ex vivo, are only marginally affected.
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