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Endocrinology. 1997 May;138(5):1909-15.

Relaxin counteracts asthma-like reaction induced by inhaled antigen in sensitized guinea pigs.

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  • 1Department of Human Anatomy and Histology, University of Florence, Italy.


In previous studies, the peptide hormone relaxin (RLX) was found to inhibit mast cell secretion and platelet activation. It has been established that the release of mediators from these cells plays a central pathogenic role in allergic asthma. This prompted us to ascertain whether RLX may counteract the respiratory and histopathological abnormalities of the asthma-like reaction to inhaled antigen in sensitized guinea pigs. Guinea pigs were sensitized with ovalbumin and challenged with the same antigen given by aerosol. Some animals received RLX (30 microg/kg BW, twice daily for 4 days) before antigen challenge. Other animals received inactivated RLX in place of authentic RLX. Respiratory abnormalities, such as cough and dyspnea, were analyzed as were light and electron microscopic features of lung specimens. RLX was shown to reduce the severity of respiratory abnormalities, as well as histological alterations, mast cell degranulation, and leukocyte infiltration in sensitized guinea pigs exposed to ovalbumin aerosol. RLX was also found to promote dilation of alveolar blood capillaries and to reduce the thickness of the air-blood barrier. This study provides evidence for an antiasthmatic property of RLX and raises the possibility of new therapeutic strategies for allergic asthma in humans.

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