Both glucocorticoids and H1-antihistamines are widely used on patients with airway diseases. However, their direct effects on airway epithelial cells are not fully explored. Therefore, we use the primary culture of human nasal epithelial cells (HNEpC) to delineate in vitro mucosal responses to above two drugs. HNEpC cells were cultured with/without budesonide and azelastine. The growth rate at each group was recorded and measured as population double time (PDT). The histamine1-receptor (H1R), muscarinic1-receptor (M1R) and M3R were measured using immunocytochemistry and western blotting after 7-days treatment. Then, we used histamine and methacholine to stimulate the mucus secretion from HNEpC and observed the MUC5AC expression in culture supernatants. Concentration-dependent treatment-induced inhibition of HNEpC growth rate was observed. Cells incubated with azelastine proliferated significantly slower than that with budesonide and the combined use of those drugs led to significant PDT prolong. The immunocytochemistry showed the H1R, M1R and M3R were obviously located in the cell membrane without apparent difference after treatment. However, western blotting showed that budesonide can significantly up-regulate the H1R, M1R and M3R level while azelastine had opposite effects. Histamine and methacholine stimulated MUC5AC secretion was greater in cells treated with budesonide but was lesser in those treated with azelastine, as compared to controls. Our data suggest that both budesonide and azelastine can significantly inhibit HNEpC proliferation, and therefore, be helpful in against airway remodeling. Long-term use of budesonide might amplify histamine signaling and result in airway hyperreactivity to stimulants by enhancing H1R, M1R and M3R expression while azelastine can oppose this effect. Therefore, combined use of those two drugs in patients with chronic inflammatory airway diseases may be an ideal option.
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