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J Lab Clin Med. 1986 Nov;108(5):489-97.

Serine proteases stimulate mucous glycoprotein release from hamster tracheal ring organ culture.


The effects of several neurohumoral agents and serine proteases on glycoconjugate release from hamster tracheal organ cultures were assessed. The beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol inhibited glycoconjugate release, and its effect was abolished by the specific beta-blocking agent propranolol. A cholinergic agonist, pilocarpine, marginally increased glycoconjugate release, and its effect was abolished by the antagonist atropine. Human neutrophil elastase and porcine pancreatic trypsin consistently increased glycoconjugate release by 1.8 to 2.8-fold. When the proteases were inactivated, they were no longer effective in stimulating glycoconjugate release. Histologic and electron microscopic analysis of the protease-treated organ cultures revealed no discernible toxic reaction. In addition, organ cultures prelabeled with chromium 51 did not release an increased amount of radioactivity when treated with the proteases. Biochemical analysis of the glycoconjugates released into the culture medium showed them to be of high molecular weight (90% eluted in the void volume of a Sepharose 6B column) and to be resistant to digestion with hyaluronidase and heparinase, properties consistent with mucous glycoproteins. The mechanism of protease-induced glycoconjugate release is unknown. We speculate that stimulation of airway secretory cells by serine proteases of neutrophilic or other inflammatory cell origin may play a role in the increased airway secretion that is characteristic of acute tracheobronchitis.

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