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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992 Oct;107(4):553-7.

Effect of substance P on ciliary beat frequency in human adenoid explants.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905.


This study investigated the direct effects of substance P (SP) on ciliary beat frequency of human upper airway mucosa. Human adenoid explant tissue was maintained in serum free culture media, MCDB153. Ciliated epithelial cells were observed with phase-contrast microscopy and ciliary activity was measured using a photometric technique. Oscillations in transmitted light caused by ciliary beating were recorded and modal ciliary beat frequency was determined by fast Fourier transformation. Specimens were treated with SP at concentrations of 10(-4), 10(-5), 10(-6), and 10(-7) mol/L and with equal molar solutions of SP and (D-Pro2,D-Trp7,9)-SP, a SP antagonist. Substance P was found to increase ciliary beat frequency in a dose-dependent manner with a maximum increase of 12.1%. This effect was not seen with solutions containing (D-Pro2,D-Trp7,9)-SP. This suggests that SP exerts a direct stimulatory effect on ciliated cells of the upper airway. Because SP is known to be released in the upper airway in response to chemical irritation, it is presumed that the stimulatory effect of SP on mucosal cells provides a protective mechanism against inhaled irritants.

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