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There is increasing evidence that sensory nerves may participate in cutaneous inflammatory responses by the release of neuropeptides such as substance P (SP). We examined the direct effect of SP on human dermal microvascular endothelial cell (HDMEC) intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) expression and function. Our results indicated that, although cultured HDMEC expressed mRNA for neurokinin receptors 1, 2, and 3 (NK-1R, NK-2R, and NK-3R), SP initiated a rapid increase in HDMEC intracellular Ca2+ levels, primarily by the activation of NK-1R. Immunohistochemistry studies likewise demonstrated that HDMEC predominantly expressed NK-1R. The addition of SP to HDMEC resulted in a rapid increase in cellular ICAM-1 mRNA levels, followed by a fivefold increase in ICAM-1 cell surface expression. This functionally resulted in a threefold increase in 51Cr-labeled binding of J-Y lymphoblastoid cells to HDMEC. In vivo studies demonstrated a marked increase in microvascular ICAM-1 immunostaining 24 and 48 h after application of capsaicin to the skin. These results indicate that neuropeptides such as SP are capable of directly activating HDMEC to express increased levels of functional ICAM-1 and further support the role of the cutaneous neurological system in modulating inflammatory processes in the skin.


K L Quinlan, I S Song, N W Bunnett, E Letran, M Steinhoff, B Harten, J E Olerud, C A Armstrong, S Wright Caughman, J C Ansel. Neuropeptide regulation of human dermal microvascular endothelial cell ICAM-1 expression and function. The American journal of physiology. 1998 Dec;275(6 Pt 1):C1580-90

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PMID: 9843720

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