We have investigated the effect of IL-1beta on histamine H(1)-receptor (H(1)R)-mediated inositol phosphate (IP) accumulation in human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC) and on histamine-induced contraction of human bronchial rings. Stimulation of HASMC for 24 h with IL-1beta resulted in significant loss of histamine-induced IP formation, which was associated with a reduction of histamine- induced contraction of IL-1beta-treated human bronchial rings. An inhibitor of NF-kappaB activation, pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, and a p38 MAPK inhibitor, blocked the IL-1beta-induced H(1)R desensitization, whereas anisomycin, an SAPK/JNK and p38 MAPK activator, mimicked the effect of IL-1beta. IL-1beta has been demonstrated to induce cox-2 expression and PGE(2) synthesis. In our study, indomethacin a cox antagonist, completely inhibited the effect of IL-1beta on H(1)R, whereas exogenously added PGE(2) was able to desensitize H(1)R. Furthermore, H-89, a selective PKA inhibitor, antagonized the effect of IL-1beta. Here, we have demonstrated that IL-1beta desensitizes H(1)R, which involves the activation of p38 MAPK and NF-kappaB, leading to the expression of cox-2 and the synthesis of PGE(2). PGE(2) increases intracellular cAMP resulting in PKA activation, which phosphorylates and functionally uncouples H(1)R. Our results suggest that IL-1beta protects airway smooth muscle against histamine-induced contractile responses and that bronchial hyperreactivity to histamine is not associated with proinflammatory cytokine-induced enhancement in H(1)R signaling.