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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1989 May;83(5):855-61.

Epithelium-derived relaxing factor(s) and bronchial reactivity.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minn 55905.


In isolated blood vessels, the mechanical or enzymatic removal of the endothelium augments the contractions evoked by a variety of vasoconstrictor agents, because the endothelial cells release a powerful relaxing substance(s) (endothelium-derived relaxing factor(s]. The focal absence of epithelial cells in airways of patients with asthma is well documented. When the luminal surface of canine bronchi is rubbed gently, the only morphologic change observed is the disappearance of the epithelial cell layer. The removal of the epithelium causes an increased sensitivity of the bronchial smooth muscle to acetylcholine without alteration in the maximal responsiveness to the cholinergic transmitter. The augmentation cannot be attributed to reduced enzymatic breakdown of acetylcholine after removal of the epithelial cells, since it is not affected by inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase. It cannot be attributed to disappearance of a diffusion barrier, since epithelium removal also augments the contractions evoked by electrical stimulation of the cholinergic nerve endings. Removal of the epithelium potentiates the contraction evoked by histamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine in a manner similar to that observed for acetylcholine. The potentiating effect of epithelium removal is more pronounced in larger rather than in smaller bronchi. By contrast, the relaxations evoked by beta-adrenergic agonists are less pronounced in bronchi without, rather than in bronchi with, epithelium. The influence of the epithelium on isoproterenol-induced relaxation is more pronounced in smaller rather than in larger bronchi. These observations suggest that the bronchial epithelium releases an inhibitory factor that partially counteracts activation of the airway smooth muscle by bronchoconstrictor substances.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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