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J Cell Physiol. 2003 Oct;197(1):30-41.

Neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) expression is induced in human colonic epithelial cells by proinflammatory cytokines and mediates proliferation in response to substance P.

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Department of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Cork, Ireland.


We have previously shown that the receptor for substance P (SP), neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R), is a marker of human mucosal but not peripheral mononuclear cells. In the present study, we investigate NK-1R expression in the human colonic mucosa in vivo, particularly in the epithelial cells. We investigate the influence of proinflammatory Th1 cytokines and SP on expression and function of NK-1R in colonic epithelial cells in vitro. Using in situ hybridization to detect NK-1R mRNA, and immunohistochemistry to detect NK-1R protein, colonic epithelial cells were found to express NK-1R in vivo. In contrast, colon epithelial cell lines (Caco-2, HT29, SW620, T84) were negative for NK-1R mRNA and protein. However, stimulation with a proinflammatory cytokine cocktail containing IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and IL-1beta, caused induction of NK-1R expression. Expression of NK-1R in human colonic epithelial cells in vivo may therefore reflect cytokine conditioning by the mucosal microenvironment. SP did not alter ion transport in monolayers of cytokine-treated T84 cells. While SP stimulated epithelial ion transport in colonic mucosae ex vivo, this was not a direct effect of SP on the epithelial cells, and appeared to be neurally mediated. However, SP (10(-10)-10(-8) M) elicited a dose-dependent proliferative effect on cytokine-stimulated, but not unstimulated, SW620 cells. Proliferation of the epithelial cells in response to SP was mediated specifically via cytokine-induced NK-1R, since an NK-1R-specific antagonist (Spantide 1) completely blocked SP-mediated proliferation in the cytokine-treated cells. Our results therefore demonstrate that proinflammatory cytokines induce expression of NK-1R in human colonic epithelial cell lines, and that SP induces proliferation of the epithelial cells via cytokine-induced NK-1R.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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