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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2008 Sep;295(3):C679-91. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00042.2008. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

Neurokinin A engages neurokinin-1 receptor to induce NF-kappaB-dependent gene expression in murine macrophages: implications of ERK1/2 and PI 3-kinase/Akt pathways.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


Neurokinin A (NKA) belongs to the tachykinin neuropeptide family. Its biological functions are primarily mediated by the neurokinin (NK)-2 receptor. NKA has been implicated in several inflammatory conditions. However, there are limited data about the mechanism of its pathogenetic action. Here, we investigated proinflammatory effects of NKA on peripheral immune cells using the mouse macrophage/monocyte cell line RAW 264.7 and primary peritoneal macrophages. The signaling mechanistic pathways involved were also studied. In mouse macrophages with no detectable NK-2 receptors, NKA induces the upregulation of NK-1 but not NK-2 receptor expression. Furthermore, NKA engages this NK-1 receptor, resulting in inflammatory-like responses involving activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB and induction of NF-kappaB-responsive proinflammatory chemokine expression. NKA activates NF-kappaB as evidenced by induced phosphorylation (leading to degradation) of its inhibitory protein IkappaBalpha, increased cellular levels of the transactivation-active phospho(Ser(276))-p65 and its nuclear translocation, as well as enhanced DNA-binding activity of NF-kappaB. These responses are specifically inhibited by selective NK-1 receptor antagonists but not NK-2 receptor antagonists, thereby excluding the role of NK-2 receptor. Further investigation on the upstream signaling mechanisms suggests that two NF-kappaB-activating pathways (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B) are activated by NKA. Specific inhibitors of the two pathways block NF-kappaB-dependent chemokine expression. The inhibitory effects are mediated through regulation of nuclear translocation, DNA-binding activity, and/or transactivation activity of NF-kappaB. Together, we provide novel evidence that NKA engages NK-1 receptors on mouse macrophages to elicit NF-kappaB-dependent cellular responses. The findings reveal cellular mechanisms that may underlie NKA-mediated inflammatory and immunological conditions.

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