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Acta Physiol Scand. 1983 Aug;118(4):393-403.

Mechanisms of leukotriene-induced contractions of guinea pig airways: leukotriene C4 has a potent direct action whereas leukotriene B4 acts indirectly.


The leukotrienes (LT's) are a group of arachidonic acid derivatives implicated as mediators of allergic bronchoconstriction and acute inflammation. Tracheal spirals and strips of lung parenchyma from guinea pigs were used under non-flow conditions to characterize the contractions caused by LTA4, LTB4 and LTC4. Cumulative administrations of leukotrienes desensitized the lung strip, whereas non-cumulative dose-response relationships for the leukotrienes and histamine were reasonably parallel. Half maximal contractions of the lung strips were obtained at a final bath concentration of 1 nM for LTC4 and 300 nM for LTA4 or LTB4, as compared with 6 000 nM for histamine. In the trachea, LTC4 was approximately 100 times more potent than LTA4 and histamine. Leukotrienes B4 and C4, but not acetylcholine or histamine, elicited release of the bronchoconstrictive thromboxane A2 from the lung under non-flow conditions. Indomethacin blocked the contractile response to LTB4, whereas the contractile effect of LTC4 remained unaltered. The beta-adrenoceptor agonist isoproterenol and the LTC4 antagonist FPL 55712 attenuated the contraction, but not the release of thromboxane A2, induced by LTC4. Changing to a perifusion technique rendered the lung strips less sensitive to the direct action of LTC4, and released thromboxane A2 now contributed significantly to the contractile response. In addition, the perifusion experiments indicated that LTB4 released histamine as well. We conclude that the chemoattractant LTB4 is an indirectly acting bronchoconstrictor, whereas the slow reacting substance LTC4 contracts the airway muscle by a predominantly direct mechanism. The exquisite bronchoconstrictive activity of LTC4 may be unrelated to its ability to induce formation of thromboxane A2.

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