Effects of albuterol enantiomers on ciliary beat frequency in ovine tracheal epithelial cells

Jeffrey I. Frohock, Corrine Wijkstrom-Frei, Matthias Salathe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Adrenergic agonists stimulate ciliary beat frequency (CBF), an integral part of mucociliary clearance. To evaluate the differential effects of albuterol enantiomers and their racemic mixture on ciliary function, CBF and intracellular calcium were measured at room temperature from single ovine airway epithelial cells with use of digital videomicroscopy. Baseline CBF was 7.2 ± 0.2 (SE) Hz (n = 80 measurements). R-albuterol (10 μM to 1 mM) stimulated CBF in a dose-dependent manner to maximally 24.4 ± 5.4% above baseline. Racemic albuterol stimulated CBF to maximally 12.8 ± 3.6% above baseline, a significantly lower increase compared with R-albuterol alone, despite identical R-enantiomer amounts in both groups. Simultaneous recordings of intracellular calcium concentration and CBF from single cells indicated that the CBF increase in response to R-albuterol was mediated through β-receptors and stimulation of protein kinase A, in a calcium-dependent and -independent fashion. S-albuterol had a negligible effect on CBF and did not change intracellular calcium. Together, these results suggest that R-albuterol is more efficacious than racemic albuterol in stimulating CBF. Thus S-albuterol may interfere with the ability of R-albuterol to increase CBF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2396-2402
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Airway
  • Beta-agonists
  • Calcium
  • Signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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