Sensory nerve-derived neuropeptides such as substance P demonstrate a number of proinflammatory bioactivities, but less is known about their role in inflammatory skin disease. The cell surface metalloprotease neutral endopeptidase (NEP) is the principal proteolytic substance P-degrading enzyme. This study tests the hypothesis that the absence of NEP results in dysregulated inflammatory skin responses. The effector phase of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) responses was examined in NEP-/- knockout and NEP+/+ wild-type mice and compared with the irritant contact dermatitis response in these animals. NEP was found to be normally immunolocalized in epidermal keratinocytes and dermal blood vessels. The ACD ear swelling response was 2.5-fold higher in animals lacking NEP and was accompanied by a significant increase in plasma extravasation and infiltration of inflammatory leukocytes. The augmented ACD response in NEP-/- animals was abrogated by either administration of a neurokinin receptor 1 antagonist or by repeated pretreatment with topical capsaicin. Similar to NEP-/- mice, the acute inhibition of NEP in NEP+/+ animals resulted in an augmented ACD response. In contrast to the ACD responses, little differences were observed in the irritant contact dermatitis response of NEP-/- compared with NEP+/+ animals after epicutaneous application of the skin irritants croton oil or SDS. Thus, these results indicate that NEP and cutaneous neuropeptides have a significant role in the pathogenesis of ACD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy