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Keywords:

  • allergy;
  • asthma;
  • inflammation;
  • lungs;
  • neurotrophins

Background

We have previously demonstrated that the administration of nerve growth factor (NGF) to guinea-pigs results in airway hyper-responsiveness within 1 h.

Objective In the present study we document the involvement of NGF in the acute allergic airway response.

Methods Guinea-pigs that are sensitized to ovalbumin show an acute bronchoconstriction directly after challenge with ovalbumin.

Results Intratracheal application of 10 µg of antibodies directed against NGF (anti-NGF) 1 h before the challenge reduces the acute severe bronchoconstriction to approximately 40% and the sustained bronchoconstriction to approximately 20% of the reaction in controls. This shows a high potency of anti-NGF in diminishing the direct bronchoconstriction. Inhibition of the tyrosine kinases of the tyrosine kinase receptor A, the high-affinity receptor for NGF, has no effect on the bronchoconstriction. Therefore, we postulate that the p75, the low-affinity receptor for neurotrophins, is responsible for the acute bronchoconstriction. Our findings suggest a role for NGF in the induction of the acute asthmatic reaction.

Conclusion These findings offer a new potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of allergic asthma.