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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992 Nov;146(5 Pt 2):S40-4.

Infections intensify neurogenic plasma extravasation in the airway mucosa.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0130.


Stimulation of sensory nerves in the airway mucosa of the rat evokes the release of inflammatory peptides such as substance P, which can increase microvascular permeability, resulting in a phenomenon known as neurogenic plasma extravasation. The change in vascular permeability is mediated by NK-1 receptors and is caused by the formation of gaps between endothelial cells of postcapillary venules and small collecting venules, which are the same vessels as are affected by inflammatory mediators such as histamine and bradykinin. Respiratory tract infections caused by Sendai virus or Mycoplasma pulmonis can intensify neurogenic plasma extravasation in the airway mucosa, as indicated by the amount of microvascular leakage evoked by substance P or capsaicin. M. pulmonis infections can produce a 30-fold increase in the magnitude of neurogenic plasma extravasation, which is evident 4 wk after infection and may be permanent. A proliferation of venules in the airway mucosa and heightened sensitivity of these vessels to inflammatory mediators are key elements of the increase in plasma extravasation. Exposure of M. pulmonis-infected rats to ammonia exacerbates the infections and further augments the responsiveness of mucosal venules to inflammatory mediators. Despite this increased responsiveness, the vessels are not abnormally leaky in the absence of inflammatory stimuli. These findings emphasize the importance of airway infections as factors that can cause a potent, long-lasting increase in the sensitivity of the microvasculature of the airway mucosa to inflammatory mediators.

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