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Toxicology. 2004 Sep 1;201(1-3):39-50.

Tachykinin substance P depletion by capsaicin exacerbates inflammatory response to sidestream cigarette smoke in rats.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, AHSCB Room #3352, The University of Arizona, P.O. Box 245073, 1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724-5073, USA.


To evaluate the role of substance P (SP)-containing C-fiber nerves in the development of the inflammatory responses to sidestream cigarette smoke (SSCS), female Fischer 344 rats were randomly assigned into vehicle and capsaicin groups, respectively. Then, half the number in each group (N = 24) was nose-only exposed to air or 0.4 mg/m3 total particulate matter of SSCS for 4 h/day for 7 days. Exposure of the vehicle rats to SSCS induced obvious pulmonary neurogenic inflammation as indicated by elevations in plasma extravasation and proinflammatory cytokine secretions [interieukin (IL)-1beta and IL-12]. In addition, except for SP release, SSCS exposure significantly induced the tachykininergic toxicities at the gene level: upregulation of beta-preprotachykinin-I (beta-PPT-I) mRNA. However, neither SSCS exposure nor capsaicin pretreatment affects the immunolabeling density of neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) in airway epithelium. SSCS also significantly inactivated pulmonary neutral endopeptidase (NEP) in lung tissue. Moreover, pretreatment with capsaicin significantly exacerbated the SSCS-induced inflammatory responses mentioned above as well as the release of plasma protein. Considering that capsaicin did not affect the normal control baselines of these parameters except for a decrease in NK-1R mRNA, we conclude that the degree of SSCS-induced inflammatory response was exacerbated because of the depletion of stored SP and/or inactivation of capsaicin-sensitive C-fiber nerves. Our data suggest the loss of afferent tachykinin SP signaling may lead to dysfunction of the sensory C-fiber nerve reflexes during exposure to SSCS, suggesting that SP serves a protective role.

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