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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1997 Feb;16(2):133-44.

Upregulation of neuropeptides and neuropeptide receptors in a murine model of immune inflammation in lung parenchyma.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section, VA Medical Center San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.


The lung is richly supplied with peptidergic nerves that store and secrete substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), and other neuropeptides known to potently modulate leukocyte function in vitro and airway inflammation in vivo. To investigate and characterize neuromodulation of immune responses compartmentalized in lung parenchyma, neuropeptide release and expression of neuropeptide receptors were studied in lungs of antigen-primed C57BL/6 mice after intratracheal challenge with sheep erythrocytes. The concentrations of cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid rose early and peaked on day 1 for interleukin (IL)-2, interferon gamma, and IL-10; days 1 to 2 for IL-6; and day 3 for IL-4, whereas the total number and different types of leukocytes in BAL fluid peaked subsequently on days 4 to 6 after i.t. antigen challenge. Immunoreactive SP and VIP in BAL fluid increased maximally to nanomolar concentrations on days 1 to 3 and 2 to 7, respectively in lungs undergoing immune responses. The high-affinity SP receptor (NK-1 R), and VIP types I (VIPR1) and II (VIPR2) receptors were localized by immunohistochemistry to surface membranes of mononuclear leukocytes and granulocytes in perivascular, peribronchiolar, and alveolar inflammatory infiltrates during immune responses. As quantified by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, significant increases were observed in levels of BAL lymphocyte mRNA encoding NK-1 R (days 2 to 4), VIPR1 (days 2 to 4), and VIPR2 (days 4 to 6), and in alveolar macrophage mRNA encoding NK-1 R (days 2 to 6) and VIPR1 (days 2 to 4), but not VIPR2. Systemic treatment of mice with a selective, nonpeptide NK-1 R antagonist reduced significantly the total numbers of leukocytes, lymphocytes, and granulocytes retrieved by BAL on day 5 of the pulmonary immune response. The results indicate that SP and VIP are secreted locally during pulmonary immune responses, and are recognized by leukocytes infiltrating lung tissue, and thus their interaction may regulate the recruitment and functions of immune cells in lung parenchyma.

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