Background: Macrolides, such as clarithromycin, have antiallergic properties. Since exocytosis in mast cells is detected electrophysiologically via changes in membrane capacitance (Cm), the absence of such changes due to the drug indicates its mast cell-stabilizing effect. Methods: Employing the whole-cell patch clamp technique in rat peritoneal mast cells, we examined the effects of clarithromycin on Cm during exocytosis. Using a water-soluble fluorescent dye, we also examined its effect on deformation of the plasma membrane. Results: Clarithromycin (10 and 100 μM) significantly inhibited degranulation from mast cells and almost totally suppressed the GTP-γ-S-induced increase in Cm. It washed out the trapping of the dye on the surface of mast cells. Conclusions: This study provides for the first time electrophysiological evidence that clarithromycin dose-dependently inhibits the process of exocytosis. The mast cell-stabilizing action of clarithromycin may be attributable to its counteractive effect on plasma membrane deformation induced by exocytosis.
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