Nerve growth factor enhances neurokinin A-induced airway responses and exhaled nitric oxide via a histamine-dependent mechanism

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2008;21(3):522-32. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2007.12.002. Epub 2008 Jan 29.


The neurotrophin nerve growth factor (NGF) is elevated in serum and locally in the lung in asthmatics and has been suggested to evoke airway hyperresponsiveness. The aim of this study was to explore mechanisms behind NGF-evoked changes in airway responsiveness. We studied if NGF could evoke increased airway responsiveness to tachykinins, such as neurokinin A (NKA), in a similar way as for histamine and, if so, whether an NGF-evoked increase in NKA airway responsiveness could involve a histamine receptor-dependent mechanism. Contractile responses to cumulative doses of histamine or NKA were studied in guinea-pig tracheal rings in vitro in organ baths. Furthermore, insufflation pressure (IP), pulmonary resistance, lung compliance and exhaled NO (FeNO) were measured in vivo in anaesthetised guinea-pigs challenged with histamine or NKA. NGF pre-treatment in vitro increased the contractile response evoked by histamine, but not by NKA, in tracheal rings. NGF pre-treatment in vivo increased IP, pulmonary resistance and levels of FeNO, and further decreased lung compliance, upon histamine and NKA challenge. The NGF-evoked enhancement of IP, pulmonary resistance, lung compliance as well as FeNO in response to NKA was reversed by the histamine receptor antagonist mepyramine. We suggest that NGF can induce an increase in tachykinin-evoked airway responses and NO formation via a histamine receptor-dependent pathway. This points to an important role for the mast cell in neurotrophin-evoked airway hyperresponsiveness and changes in exhaled NO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Histamine / pharmacology
  • Histamine / physiology*
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lung Compliance / drug effects
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Nerve Growth Factor / pharmacology*
  • Neurokinin A / pharmacology*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Pyrilamine / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Histamine / drug effects
  • Receptors, Histamine / physiology
  • Respiratory Mechanics / drug effects
  • Respiratory System / drug effects*
  • Trachea / drug effects


  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Receptors, Histamine
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Histamine
  • Neurokinin A
  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • Pyrilamine