Sympathetic Nerve Contact Alters Membrane Resistance of Cells of the RBL-2H3 Mucosal Mast Cell Line
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Indirect evidence links sensory nerves with mast cells (MC) in inflammatory reactions of airway, skin, and intestine. Isolated MC secrete histamine, serotonin, and other inflammatory mediators in response to neuropeptides such as substance P (SP) in vitro. To obtain direct evidence of nerve/MC interactions, we used a tissue culture model involving the co-culture of murine sympathetic neurons and rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells (homologous to mucosal MC). An electrophysiologic analysis of the consequences of neuron/RBL cell contacts showed that neurite contact with RBL cells reduced the control input resistance (Ro) of 61.8 +/- 3.2 (n = 110) M omega to 22.4 +/- 4.8 (n = 13) M omega (P less than 0.01) without change in the membrane potential. Time course studies showed that Ro of RBL cells with neurite contact was always lower by 30 to 54% than adjacent RBL cells lacking such contact. This effect was not seen in RBL cells cultured on rat fibroblasts. Direct application of SP, bradykinin, and somatostatin, but not acetylcholine, noradrenaline, or the putative neurotransmitter ATP, could partly mimic the effect of neurite contact. Therefore, neurotransmitter release from sympathetic neurons in contact with RBL cells may decrease RBL cell membrane resistance, possibly leading to activation.
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