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Salbutamol exhibits androgenic activity in vitro
  1. André O von Bueren,
  2. Risheng Ma,
  3. Margret Schlumpf,
  4. Walter Lichtensteiger
  1. Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  1. André O von Bueren, University Children’s Hospital, Steinwiesstrasse 75, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland; Andre.vonBueren{at}


Background: Salbutamol has been shown to mediate anabolic effects after intravenous administration. However, the mechanism responsible for the anabolic actions of salbutamol remains unknown.

Aim: To investigate the potential mechanism by which salbutamol mediates anabolic effects in vitro.

Methods: The potential androgenic activity of salbutamol was investigated in vitro by the A-Screen assay that measures androgen-dependent inhibition of proliferation of the androgen receptor (AR)-positive human mammary carcinoma cell line, MCF7-AR1.

Results: The assay was validated with three known androgens; methyltrienolone (R1881), 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and danazol. IC50 values of R1881, DHT and danazol, 4.41×10−11, 4.44×10−11 and 1.08×10−8 M, respectively, were in the ranges known from earlier studies. Our results demonstrate that salbutamol exhibits androgenic activity, with an IC50 value of 8.93×10−6 M. Anti-estrogenic or cytotoxic effects, which might have interfered with the assay, were excluded by additional experiments on wild-type MCF7 and MCF7-AR1 cells, respectively.

Conclusion: These data indicate that salbutamol exerts anabolic effects through androgen receptor agonistic activity in vitro.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    androgen receptor
    charcoal–dextran treated foetal bovine serum
    optical density
    sulforhodamine B
    trichloroacetic acid

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