Effects of experimental Mycoplasma pulmonis infection on sensory neuropeptides and airway mucosa in the rat

T Norlander, L Nilsson, C Rivero, T Midvedt, M Lidegran, B Carlsöö, P Stierna
European Respiratory Journal 1997, 10 (10): 2334-42
The effect of airway infection on neurogenic inflammation is not known. The present study examines the effect of Mycoplasma pulmonis infection on the sensory neuropeptides substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in the trigeminal ganglion and in the mucosa of the nose and trachea in rats. We compared germ-free (GF), conventionally raised (CV) and specific pathogen-free (SPF) rats. The concentrations of SP and CGRP in the nasal mucosa were assessed with immunohistochemistry, and their prohormonal transcripts in the trigeminal ganglion were assessed with Northern blot. Mucosa was also processed for light microscopy and electron microscopy. SP-like immunoreactivity was greater in the nasal mucosa of infected animals than in uninfected controls. CGRP-like immunoreactivity was greater in the nasal septum, but not in the nasal turbinate, of infected than uninfected animals. In contrast, no change was evident in the expression levels of the prohormonal transcripts in the trigeminal ganglion. Infected nasal and tracheal mucosa was oedematous and locally infiltrated with inflammatory cells. In the nose of uninfected GF rats, subepithelial lymphoid aggregations were scarce and appeared inactive. We conclude that Mycoplasma pulmonis infection results in increased immunoreactivity of substance P, probably within nerves. There was no clear evidence of increased synthesis of the precursors of substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide.

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