Substance P activates both contractile and inflammatory pathways in lymphatics through the neurokinin receptors NK1R and NK3R.
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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to elucidate the molecular signaling mechanisms by which substance P (SP) modulates lymphatic muscle contraction and to determine whether SP stimulates both contractile as well as inflammatory pathways in the lymphatics. METHODS: A rat mesenteric lymphatic muscle cell culture model (RMLMCs) and known specific pharmacological inhibitors were utilized to delineate SP-mediated signaling pathways in lymphatics. RESULTS: We detected expression of neurokinin receptor 1 (NK1R) and neurokinin receptor 3 (NK3R) in RMLMCs. SP stimulation increased phosphorylation of myosin light chain 20 (MLC) as well as p38 mitogen associated protein kinase (p38-MAPK) and extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK1/2) indicating activation of both a contractile and a pro-inflammatory MAPK pathway. Pharmacological inhibition of both NK1R and NK3R significantly affected the downstream SP signaling. We further examined whether there was any crosstalk between the two pathways upon SP stimulation. Inhibition of ERK1/2 decreased levels of p-MLC after SP activation, in a PKC dependent manner, indicating a potential crosstalk between these two pathways. CONCLUSIONS: These data provide the first evidence that SP-mediated crosstalk between pro-inflammatory and contractile signaling mechanisms exists in the lymphatic system and may be an important bridge between lymphatic function modulation and inflammation.