Background: It has recently been suggested that RhoA plays an important role in the enhancement of the Ca2+ sensitization of smooth muscle contraction. In the present study, a participation of RhoA-mediated Ca2+ sensitization in the augmented bronchial smooth muscle (BSM) contraction in a murine model of allergic asthma was examined.
Methods: Ovalbumin (OA)-sensitized BALB/c mice were repeatedly challenged with aerosolized OA and sacrificed 24 hours after the last antigen challenge. The contractility and RhoA protein expression of BSMs were measured by organ-bath technique and immunoblotting, respectively.
Results: Repeated OA challenge to sensitized mice caused a BSM hyperresponsiveness to acetylcholine (ACh), but not to high K+-depolarization. In alpha-toxin-permeabilized BSMs, ACh induced a Ca2+ sensitization of contraction, which is sensitive to Clostridium botulinum C3 exoenzyme, indicating that RhoA is implicated in this Ca2+ sensitization. Interestingly, the ACh-induced, RhoA-mediated Ca2+ sensitization was significantly augmented in permeabilized BSMs of OA-challenged mice. Moreover, protein expression of RhoA was significantly increased in the hyperresponsive BSMs.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that the augmentation of Ca2+ sensitizing effect, probably via an up-regulation of RhoA protein, might be involved in the enhanced BSM contraction in antigen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness.