Hemokinin-1 is an important mediator of endotoxin-induced acute airway inflammation in the mouse

Peptides. 2015 Feb;64:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2014.12.002. Epub 2014 Dec 22.


Objective: Hemokinin-1, the newest tachykinin encoded by the preprotachykinin C (Tac4) gene, is predominatly produced by immune cells. Similarly to substance P, it has the greatest affinity to the tachykinin NK1 receptor, but has different binding site and signaling mechanisms. Furthermore, several recent data indicate the existence of a not yet identified own receptor and divergent non-NK1-mediated actions. Since there is no information on its functions in the airways, we investigated its role in endotoxin-induced pulmonary inflammation.

Methods: Acute pneumonitis was induced in Tac4 gene-deleted (Tac4(-/-)) mice compared to C57Bl/6 wildtypes by intranasal E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Airway responsiveness to inhaled carbachol was measured with unrestrained whole body plethysmography 24h later. Semiquantitative histopathological scoring was performed; reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was measured with luminol bioluminescence, myeloperoxidase activity with spectrophotometry, and inflammatory cytokines with Luminex.

Results: All inflammatory parameters, such as histopathological alterations (perivascular edema, neutrophil/macrophage accumulation, goblet cell hyperplasia), myeloperoxidase activity, ROS production, as well as interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and keratinocyte chemoattractant concentrations were significantly diminished in the lung of Tac4(-/-) mice. However, bronchial hyperreactivity similarly developed in both groups. Interestingly, in LPS-treated Tac4(-/-) mouse lungs, bronchus-associated, large, follicle-like lymphoid structures developed.

Conclusions: We provide the first evidence that hemokinin-1 plays a crucial pro-inflammatory role in the lung by increasing inflammatory cell activities, and might also be a specific regulator of lymphocyte functions.

Keywords: Acute pneumonitis; Luminescence imaging; Reactive oxygen species; Tachykinin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / physiopathology*
  • Protein Precursors / drug effects
  • Protein Precursors / immunology
  • Protein Precursors / physiology*
  • Tachykinins / drug effects
  • Tachykinins / immunology
  • Tachykinins / physiology*


  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Protein Precursors
  • Tac4 protein, mouse
  • Tachykinins