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Keywords:

  • PKC;
  • substance P;
  • neurokinin-1-receptor;
  • acute pancreatitis

Abstract

Substance P (SP) is involved in the pathophysiology of acute pancreatitis (AP) via binding to its high-affinity receptor, neurokinin-1-receptor (NK1R). An up-regulation of SP and NK1R expression was observed in experimental AP and in caerulein-stimulated pancreatic acinar cells. However, the mechanisms that lead to this up-regulation are not fully understood. In this study, we showed the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in caerulein-induced SP and NK1R production in isolated mouse pancreatic acinar cells. Caerulein (10−7 M) stimulation rapidly activated the conventional PKC-α and novel PKC-δ as observed by the phosphorylation of these molecules. Pre-treatment of pancreatic acinar cells with Gö6976 (1–10 nM) and rottlerin (1–10 μM) inhibited PKC-α and PKC-δ phosphorylation, respectively, but not the other way round. At these concentrations used, PKC-α and PKC-δ inhibition reversed the caerulein-induced up-regulation of SP and NK1R, indicating an important role of PKCs in the modulation of SP and NK1R expression. Further experiments looking into signalling mechanisms showed that treatment of pancreatic acinar cells with both Gö6976 and rottlerin inhibited the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Inhibition of PKC-α or PKC-δ also affected caerulein-induced transcription factor activation, as represented by nuclear factor-κB and AP-1 DNA-binding activity. The findings in this study suggested that PKC is upstream of the mitogen-activated protein kinases and transcription factors, which then lead to the up-regulation of SP/NK1R expression in caerulein-treated mouse pancreatic acinar cells.