Papers And Originals

Response of Leucocyte Adenyl Cyclase to Isoprenaline and Effect of Alpha-blocking Drugs in Extrinsic Bronchial Asthma

Br Med J 1974; 1 doi: (Published 19 January 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;1:90
  1. W. C. Alston,
  2. K. R. Patel,
  3. J. W. Kerr


    The finding by several workers that biochemical responses to catecholamines are diminished in asthmatic patients during periods of active asthma as compared to normal subjects has led to the recognition of the beta-adrenergic blockade phenomenon, a common accompaniment of extrinsic bronchial asthma. Using an intact cell method to measure leucocyte adenyl cyclase activity, we have been able to show that there is a noticeably reduced responsiveness of this enzyme system (which is now identified with beta-receptor function) to isoprenaline in the leucocytes of patients suffering from acute bronchial asthma, but that asthmatic patients in remission could not be distinguished from normal persons in this respect. Evidently the defective beta-receptor function may be associated with overactivity of the alpha-receptors in acute bronchial asthma, since the responsiveness to isoprenaline stimulation could be restored towards normal by concomitant treatment of the leucocytes of these patients with alpha-receptor blocking drugs such as phentolamine or thymoxamine. Ouabain, though somewhat less potent, also enhanced responsiveness to isoprenaline stimulation. The relation of these results to the clinical observation of adrenaline resistance in active asthma suggests that alpha-receptor blocking drugs may be of value in restoring the sensitivity of beta-receptors to sympathomimetic amines.