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Clin Exp Allergy. 1995 Feb;25(2):179-86.

Substance P induces histamine release from human pulmonary mast cells.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Queen's University of Belfast, UK.


Substance P elicits histamine release from human skin and rodent mast cells. Since neuropeptide-mediated reflexes may be important in asthma, we examined the ability of substance P to stimulate human mast cells obtained at bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). BAL samples were obtained at routine bronchoscopy from 35 non-preselected patients. Histamine release experiments were performed in a standard manner using substance P and the calcium ionophore A23187. Both substance P (50 microM) and A23187 caused histamine release (median 26.7% range 6.2-62.8% and 32.1%, 7.7-56.8% respectively) which was significantly greater (P < 0.0001) than the spontaneous release (median 15.6%, range 4.1-33.4%), i.e. that in the absence of any stimulus. Substance P induced histamine release was via an energy dependent process and was blocked by preincubation with antimycin A. A significant correlation was observed between substance P induced release and spontaneous release but was not observed with A23187 induced release. Mast cell counts correlated significantly with substance P induced release but not with spontaneous or A23187 induced release. The substance P induced histamine secretion was elicited at similar concentrations to those used with rodent and human skin mast cells. Asthma is associated with increased numbers of mast cells which have both increased spontaneous and stimulated secretory responses. Thus, in vivo, the bronchoconstrictor action of substance P may in part result from activation of mast cells in the bronchial lumen.

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