To whom correspondence should be addressed: Hiroshi Sugiya, Department of Physiology, Nihon University School of Dentistry at Matsudo, Matsudo, Chiba 271-8587 Japan;


Short-chain carboxylic acids are the metabolic by-products of pathogenic anaerobic bacteria and are found at sites of infection in millimolar quantities. We previously reported that propionic acid, one of the short-chain carboxylic acids, induces an increase in intracellular Ca2+([Ca2+]i) in human neutrophils. Here we investigate the effect of propionic acid on superoxide generation in human neutrophils. Propionic acid (10mm) induced inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) formation and a rapidly transient increase in [Ca2+]i, but not superoxide generation, whereas 1μm formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP), a widely used neutrophil-stimulating bacterial peptide, stimulated not only IP3formation and Ca2+mobilization but also superoxide generation. The IP3level induced by propionic acid was slightly lower than that induced by fMLP. The transient increase in [Ca2+]iinduced by propionic acid immediately returned to the basal level, whereas a sustained increase in [Ca2+]i, which was higher than the basal level, following a transient increase in [Ca2+]iwas induced by fMLP. The peak level induced by propionic acid was lower than that with fMLP. In the absence of extracellular Ca2+, thapsigargin, a potent inhibitor of endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase, induced an increase in [Ca2+]ieven after propionic acid stimulation, but not after fMLP. The Ca2+ionophore A23187 and thapsigargin induced superoxide generation by themselves. Propionic acid enhanced the superoxide generating effect of A23187 and thapsigargin. These results suggest that Ca2+mobilization induced by propionic acid is much weaker than that with fMLP, and propionic acid is able to generate superoxide in the presence of a Ca2+ionophore and a Ca2+influx activator.