Substance P (SP), one of the established neurotransmitters, evokes an immunoinflammatory response involving leukocyte adhesion to venular endothelium and the degranulation of mast cells. The pathogenetic relationship between these responses, however, remains unresolved. In this study, we propose to examine the changes associated with the activation of mast cells, as well as leukocyte adhesion to venular endothelium by in vivo observation of the rat mesentery. The use of an in vitro assay for intracellular Ca2+ mobilization and the degranulation of mast cells demonstrated the significant upper shift of concentration response to SP (10-4-10-5 M). In vivo experiments on the mesenteric microcirculation also showed that SP induced a significant increase in the number of degranulated mast cells as well as in the number of leukocytes adherent to the venular wall. Tranilast, a mast cell stabilizer, as well as SP antagonist (CP-96,345) significantly attenuated the extent of mast cell degranulation and leukocyte adhesion elicited by SP. Although an immunoneutralization against CD18 by WT-3 significantly attenuated the leukocyte adhesion, it had no influence on the mast cell degranulation after SP superfusion. These separate in vivo observations show that SP induces leukocyte adhesion to the venular endothelium, possibly through the degranulation of mast cells.
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