Background Neurotrophins such as nerve growth factor or brain-derived neurotrophic factor influence neuronal proliferation and differentiation via the low-affinity pan-neurotrophin receptor p75NTR that may play a pivotal role in linking the immune with the nervous system. Because the precise regulation of p75NTR gene transcription in mast cells under states of allergic inflammation has not been investigated in detail so far, the present studies assessed the gene regulation and expression of this receptor.
Methods Transcriptional expression of p75NTR in human skin was studied in isolated cutaneous cells by means of RT-PCR. In situ lesional mast cell p75NTR expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry.
Results The p75NTR mRNA expression was found in isolated human skin mast cells and keratinocytes. Lower mRNA levels were present in fibroblasts and melanocytes but no transcripts were found in endothelial cells. The p75NTR protein expression was found in situ in lesional and non-lesional mast cells. A significantly increased expression of p75NTR protein was found in atopic dermatitis lesional mast cells when compared with control mast cell expression (P<0.05).
Conclusion The demonstration of an increased level of p75NTR gene transcription in lesional mast cells points to an induction of low-affinity neurotrophin receptor sensitivity of mast cells under states of allergic inflammation. Topically administered neurotrophin receptor-modulating compounds may act as anti-inflammatory mediators in cutaneous allergic inflammation.