Neutral endopeptidase (EC terminates colitis by degrading substance P Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Neurogenic inflammation is regulated by sensory nerves and characterized by extravasation of plasma proteins and infiltration of neutrophils from post-capillary venules and arteriolar vasodilatation. Although it is well established that substance P (SP) interacts with the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) to initiate neurogenic inflammation, the mechanisms that terminate inflammation are unknown. We examined whether neutral endopeptidase (NEP), a cell-surface enzyme that degrades SP in the extracellular fluid, terminates neurogenic inflammation in the colon. In NEP knockout mice, the SP concentration in the colon was ≈2.5-fold higher than in wild-type mice, suggesting increased bioavailability of SP. The extravasation of Evans blue-labeled plasma proteins in the colon of knockout mice under basal conditions was ≈4-fold higher than in wild-type mice. This elevated plasma leak was attenuated by recombinant NEP or the NK1R antagonist SR140333, and is thus caused by diminished degradation of SP. To determine whether deletion of NEP predisposes mice to uncontrolled inflammation, we compared dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid-induced colitis in wild-type and knockout mice. The severity of colitis, determined by macroscopic and histologic scoring and by myeloperoxidase activity, was markedly worse in knockout than wild-type mice after 3 and 7 days. The exacerbated inflammation in knockout mice was prevented by recombinant NEP and SR140333. Thus, NEP maintains low levels of SP in the extracellular fluid under basal conditions and terminates its proinflammatory effects. Because we have previously shown that intestinal inflammation results in down-regulation of NEP and diminished degradation of SP, our present results suggest that defects in NEP expression contribute to uncontrolled inflammation.


  • Sturiale, S
  • Barbara, G
  • Qiu, B
  • Figini, M
  • Geppetti, P
  • Gerard, N
  • Gerard, C
  • Grady, EF
  • Bunnett, NW
  • Collins, Stephen Michael

publication date

  • September 28, 1999