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J Surg Res. 2005 Sep;128(1):21-7.

Neutral endopeptidase determines the severity of pancreatitis-associated lung injury.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0790, USA.



Neutral endopeptidase (NEP) is a cell-surface metalloprotease that degrades proinflammatory peptides such as substance P, neurokinin A, and bradykinin. Inhibition of NEP exacerbates both experimental pancreatitis and the associated lung injury. It is unclear if worsened lung injury is the indirect result of more severe pancreatitis or if it is a direct effect of NEP inhibition in the lung.


We used a model of pancreatitis-associated lung injury (PALI) to test the hypothesis that antagonism or genetic deletion of NEP augments PALI inflammation and pulmonary damage irregardless of the degree of pancreatitic inflammation.


In NEP(+/+) mice, intraperitoneal injection of porcine pancreatic elastase (elastase, 0.085 U/g at t = 0 h and t = 1 h) caused a 7-fold increase in lung myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and marked pulmonary edema, neutrophil infiltration, and hemorrhage at 4 h as compared to control animals. The pattern of lung injury induced by elastase mimicked that observed among a separate group of animals with PALI induced by cerulein but was not associated with pancreatitis. Both NEP(-/-) mice and NEP(+/+) mice pretreated with the NEP antagonist phosphoramidon (10 mg/kg s.c.) had significant elevations of lung MPO and worsened lung histology compared to NEP(+/+) mice given elastase alone. Antagonism of either the vanilloid receptor transient receptor vanilloid 1 or the substance P receptor NK1-R had no effect on elastase-mediated lung injury in NEP-deficient mice.


NEP is an inhibitor of pancreatic elastase-induced lung injury, presumably via degradation of proinflammatory mediators.

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