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Respir Res. 2010 Oct 7;11:139. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-11-139.

Expression and function of human hemokinin-1 in human and guinea pig airways.

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Laboratory of pulmonary pharmacology UPRES EA220, Foch Hospital, University Versailles-Saint Quentin en Yvelines, 11 rue Guillaume Lenoir, Suresnes, France.



Human hemokinin-1 (hHK-1) and endokinins are peptides of the tachykinin family encoded by the TAC4 gene. TAC4 and hHK-1 expression as well as effects of hHK-1 in the lung and airways remain however unknown and were explored in this study.


RT-PCR analysis was performed on human bronchi to assess expression of tachykinin and tachykinin receptors genes. Enzyme immunoassay was used to quantify hHK-1, and effects of hHK-1 and endokinins on contraction of human and guinea pig airways were then evaluated, as well as the role of hHK-1 on cytokines production by human lung parenchyma or bronchi explants and by lung macrophages.


In human bronchi, expression of the genes that encode for hHK-1, tachykinin NK1-and NK2-receptors was demonstrated. hHK-1 protein was found in supernatants from explants of human bronchi, lung parenchyma and lung macrophages. Exogenous hHK-1 caused a contractile response in human bronchi mainly through the activation of NK2-receptors, which blockade unmasked a NK1-receptor involvement, subject to a rapid desensitization. In the guinea pig trachea, hHK-1 caused a concentration-dependant contraction mainly mediated through the activation of NK1-receptors. Endokinin A/B exerted similar effects to hHK-1 on both human bronchi and guinea pig trachea, whereas endokinins C and D were inactive. hHK-1 had no impact on the production of cytokines by explants of human bronchi or lung parenchyma, or by human lung macrophages.


We demonstrate endogenous expression of TAC4 in human bronchi, the encoded peptide hHK-1 being expressed and involved in contraction of human and guinea pig airways.

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