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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Sep;154(3 Pt 1):649-53.

Inhaled tryptase causes bronchoconstriction in sheep via histamine release.

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Division of Pulmonary Disease, University of Miami at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Florida 33140, USA.


Allergen-induced bronchoconstriction involves mast cell activation. Tryptase is a mast cell serine protease that is released during this process, but little is known about the action of tryptase in the airway. The purpose of this study was to determine: (1) if aerosolized tryptase causes bronchoconstriction, and (2) the mechanism by which this occurs. We measured mean pulmonary flow resistance (RL) in five allergic sheep before and after consecutive inhalations of 100 and 500 ng tryptase (in 2 ml total volume). Inhaled tryptase at 100 and 500 ng increased RL (mean +/- SE) by 33 +/- 12 and 122 +/- 8% (p < 0.05) over baseline. The response was reproducible upon repeat challenges. These studies were repeated in the same animals after pretreatment with aerosolized APC 366 (9 mg/3 ml), a specific tryptase inhibitor. In APC-366-treated sheep, tryptase increased RL by 10 +/- 3 and 6 +/- 2% (p < 0.05 versus control values) at 100 and 500 ng, respectively. The response to tryptase was also blocked by pretreating the sheep intravenously with the histamine H1-antagonist chlorpheniramine (2 mg/kg), in which RL increased only 5 +/- 4 and 7 +/- 6% after 100 and 500 ng tryptase. APC 366, however, did not block histamine-induced bronchoconstriction. Consistent with these findings was the observation that segmental bronchial challenge with tryptase (1 microgram) resulted in a significant increase in histamine levels in bronchoalveolar lavage. Inhaled tryptase (500 ng) also caused airway hyperresponsiveness to aerosolized carbachol 2 h after tryptase challenge. This tryptase-induced airway hyperresponsiveness could be blocked either by pretreating the sheep with APC 366 (30 min before challenge) or by treating the sheep 30 min after challenge. These results indicate that inhaled tryptase causes bronchoconstriction and airway hyperresponsiveness in allergic sheep by an event that may involve mast cell activation.

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