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Pulm Pharmacol. 1992 Sep;5(3):175-82.

Localization of immunoreactive endothelin and proendothelin in the human lung.

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  • 1Clinical Pharmacology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK.


The endothelins are a family of three 21-amino-acid peptides: endothelin-1, endothelin-2 and endothelin-3. They are powerfully vasoactive, causing both contraction and relaxation of blood vessels. They are also active in the lung causing long lasting bronchoconstriction. Antibodies were raised in rabbits against the C-terminal heptapeptide of endothelin-1 (endothelin-1(15-21)) and to portions of the C-terminus of the human proendothelin-1(31-38), proendothelin-2(31-37) and proendothelin-3(31-41 amide) and tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to determine their titre and cross-reactivity. We used these antibodies to determine the localization of mature endothelin in the adult human lung and to determine the distribution of each of the three proendothelins. Mature endothelin immunoreactivity was present in airway epithelia and submucosal glands throughout the lung. In the airway epithelia immunoreactive proendothelin-1 and proendothelin-3 were detected, while immunoreactivity of all three isoforms was present in submucosal glands. Quantitative in vitro receptor autoradiography was used to locate specific endothelin binding sites. The rank order for density of endothelin binding site occurrence was: lung parenchyma greater than airway smooth muscle greater than airway epithelia. If immunoreactive endothelin is released onto these sites in vivo, endothelin may act as a paracrine mediator in the human lung.

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