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J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Feb;132(2):324-9. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.334. Epub 2011 Nov 17.

Substance P (SP) induces expression of functional corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor-1 (CRHR-1) in human mast cells.

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Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery Laboratory, Department of Molecular Physiology and Pharmacology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is secreted under stress and regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. However, CRH is also secreted outside the brain where it exerts proinflammatory effects through activation of mast cells, which are increasingly implicated in immunity and inflammation. Substance P (SP) is also involved in inflammatory diseases. Human LAD2 leukemic mast cells express only CRHR-1 mRNA weakly. Treatment of LAD2 cells with SP (0.5-2 μM) for 6 hours significantly increases corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor-1 (CRHR-1) mRNA and protein expression. Addition of CRH (1 μM) to LAD2 cells, which are "primed" with SP for 48 hours and then washed, induces synthesis and release of IL-8, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) 24 hours later. These effects are blocked by pretreatment with an NK-1 receptor antagonist. Treatment of LAD2 cells with CRH (1 μM) for 6 hours induces gene expression of NK-1 as compared with controls. However, repeated stimulation of mast cells with CRH (1 μM) leads to downregulation of CRHR-1 and upregulation in NK-1 gene expression. These results indicate that SP can stimulate mast cells and also increase expression of functional CRHR-1, whereas CRH induces NK-1 gene expression. These results may explain CRHR-1 and NK-1 expression in lesional skin of psoriatic patients.

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