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Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2001;14(5):391-401.

Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide as mediator of asthma.

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  • 1Division of Allergy Research, Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.


Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) is one of the most abundant, biologically active peptides found in the human lung. VIP is a likely neurotransmitter or neuromodulator of the inhibitory non-adrenergic non-cholinergic airway nervous system and influences many aspects of pulmonary biology. In human airways VIP-immunoreactive nerve fibres are present in the tracheobronchial airway smooth muscle layer, the walls of pulmonary and bronchial vessels and around submucosal glands. Next to its prominent bronchodilatory effects, VIP potently relaxes pulmonary vessels. The precise role of VIP in the pathogenesis of asthma is still uncertain. Although a therapy using the strong bronchodilatory effects of VIP would offer potential benefits, the rapid inactivation of the peptide by airway peptidases has prevented effective VIP-based drugs so far and non-peptide VIP-agonists did not reach clinical use.

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