Are lymphocytes a target for substance P modulation in arthritis?
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The contribution of the neuropeptide substance P to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has recently been suggested. The presence of immunoreactive substance P in the serum and joint fluid of RA patients was significantly increased compared with age-matched control patients. To investigate the ability of substance P to alter lymphocyte activity during the disease, lymphocytes were isolated from the synovial fluid and blood of RA patients and their ability to respond to substance P as measured by [3H]thymidine uptake was characterized. Upon exposure of RA synovial fluid and peripheral blood lymphocytes to various concentrations of substance P in vitro, no increase in proliferation was witnessed. To the contrary, control peripheral blood lymphocyte proliferation was significantly enhanced by various concentrations of substance P. However, synoviocytes from the joints of RA patients were responsive to substance P stimulation. These data suggest that substance P receptors may be desensitized on systemic and local lymphocytes in RA, or the proinflammatory activities of substance P may be mediated via the synovial membrane during chronic inflammation.
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