Influenza infection causes airway hyperresponsiveness by decreasing enkephalinase

D. B. Jacoby, J. Tamaoki, D. B. Borson, J. A. Nadel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Ferret tracheal segments were infected with human influenza virus A/Taiwan/86 (H1N1) in vitro. After 4 days, the smooth muscle contractile responses to acetylcholine and to substance P were measured. The response to substance P was markedly accentuated, with a threefold increase in force of contraction at a substance P concentration of 10-5 M, the highest concentration tested. In contrast, the response to acetylcholine was not affected by viral infection. Histological examination of tissues revealed extensive epithelial desquamation. Activity of enkephalinase (neutral metallo-endopeptidase, EC., an enzyme that degrades substance P, was decreased by 50% in infected tissues. Inhibiting enkephalinase activity by pretreating with thiorphan (10-5 M) increased the response to substance P to the same final level in both infected and control tissues. Inhibiting other substance P-degrading enzymes including kininase II (angiotensin-converting enzyme), serine proteases, and aminopeptidases did not affect the response to substance P. Inhibiting cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase activity using indomethacin and BW 755c did not affect hyperresponsiveness to substance P. Pretreating tissues with antagonists of α-adrenoceptors, β-adrenoceptors, and H1 histamine receptors (phentolamine 10-5 M, propranolol 5 x 10-6 M, and pyrilamine 10-5 M, respectively) had no effect on substance P-induced contraction. These results demonstrate that infection of ferret airway tissues with influenza virus increases the contractile response of airway smooth muscle to substance P. This effect is caused by decreased enkephalinase activity in infected tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2653-2658
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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