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Using biochemical, epifluorescence and electron microscopic techniques in a U937 model system, we investigated the effect of anti-allergic drugs di-sodium cromoglycate and sodium nedocromil on the trafficking and release of the anti-inflammatory protein Annexin-A1 (Anx-A1) when this was triggered by glucocorticoid (GC) treatment. GCs alone produced a rapid (within 5min) concentration-dependent activation of PKCalpha/beta (Protein Kinase C; EC and phosphorylation of Anx-A1 on Ser(27). Both phosphoproteins accumulated at the plasma membrane and Anx-A1 was subsequently externalised thereby inhibiting thromboxane (Tx) B(2) generation. When administered alone, cromoglycate or nedocromil had little effect on this pathway however, in the presence of a fixed sub-maximal concentration of GCs, increasing amounts of the cromoglycate-like drugs caused a striking concentration-dependent enhancement of Anx-A1 and PKCalpha/beta phosphorylation, membrane recruitment and Anx-A1 release from cells resulting in greatly enhanced inhibition of TxB(2) generation. GCs also stimulated phosphatase accumulation at the plasma membrane of U937 cells. Both cromoglycate and nedocromil inhibited this enzymatic activity as well as that of a highly purified PP2A phosphatase preparation. We conclude that stimulation by the cromoglycate-like drugs of intracellular Anx-A1 trafficking and release (hence inhibition of eicosanoid release) is secondary to inhibition of a phosphatase PP2A (phosphoprotein phosphatase; EC, which probably forms part of a control loop to limit Anx-A1 release. These experiments provide a basis for a novel mechanism of action for the cromolyns, a group of drugs that have long puzzled investigators.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem Pharmacol

Publication Date





1814 - 1826


Annexin A1, Anti-Asthmatic Agents, Cromolyn Sodium, Drug Therapy, Combination, Eicosanoids, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Nedocromil, Protein Kinase C, Protein Phosphatase 2, Protein Transport, U937 Cells