Background Several second-generation antihistamines have documented anti-inflammatory effects which appear independent of H1-receptor blockade. We investigated the inhibitory effect of cetirizine and its active enantiomer levocetirizine on eosinophil transendothelial migration (TEM) through monolayers of normal human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC-d) or human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC-l).
Methods HMVEC-d or HMVEC-l were grown to confluence on micropore filters in transwells inserted into a 24-well tissue culture dish. Eosinophils were isolated by density gradient centrifugation and negative immunomagnetic selection. Untreated eosinophils or eosinophils pre-incubated (30 min at 37 °C) with a concentration range of cetirizine or levocetirizine (10−5 to 10−9 m) were added to the upper chamber of the transwell which was incubated for 60 min at 37 °C. Both spontaneous eosinophil TEM and TEM to 100 ng/mL of human eotaxin in the lower chamber were assessed.
Results Between 8 and 10% of the eosinophils added to the upper chamber underwent spontaneous TEM through HMVEC-d or HMVEC-l. The addition of eotaxin to the lower chamber enhanced eosinophil TEM through HMVEC-d or HMVEC-l monolayers to over 20%, i.e. an enhanced TEM of approximately 100% in each case. Pre-incubation of eosinophils with cetirizine or levocetirizine dose-dependently inhibited eosinophil TEM to eotaxin through both HMVEC-d or HMVEC-l with total inhibition of eotaxin-induced TEM observed at 10−8 m for HMVEC-d and 10−7 m for HMVEC-l. Both drugs gave a reduced but significant inhibition of eosinophil TEM at lower concentrations. No concentration of cetirizine or levocetirizine had any significant effect on expression of CD11b, CD18 or CD49d by either resting or eotaxin-stimulated eosinophils. Furthermore, no effect on spontaneous eosinophil TEM, or eosinophil viability was seen with any concentration of cetirizine or levocetirizine.
Conclusion Levocetirizine inhibits eotaxin-induced eosinophil TEM through both dermal and lung microvascular endothelial cells suggesting that, like cetirizine, levocetirizine has potential anti-inflammatory effects.