Mast cells play an essential role in immediate type hypersensitivity reactions and in chronic allergic diseases of the airways, including asthma. Mast cell mediator release can be modulated by locally released autacoids and circulating hormones, but surprisingly little is known about the autocrine effects of mediators released upon mast cell activation. We thus set out to characterize the autocrine and paracrine effects of mast cell mediators on mast cell activation in the guinea pig airways. By direct measures of histamine, cysteinyl-leukotriene and thromboxane release and with studies of allergen-evoked contractions of airway smooth muscle, we describe a complex interplay amongst these autacoids. Notably, we observed an autocrine effect of the cysteinyl-leukotrienes acting through cysLT1 receptors on mast cell leukotriene release. We confirmed the results of previous studies demonstrating a marked enhancement of mast cell mediator release following cyclooxygenase inhibition, but we have extended these results by showing that COX-2 derived eicosanoids inhibit cysteinyl-leukotriene release and yet are without effect on histamine release. Given the prominent role of COX-1 inhibition in aspirin-sensitive asthma, these data implicate preformed mediators stored in granules as the initial drivers of these adverse reactions. Finally, we describe the paracrine signaling cascade leading to thromboxane synthesis in the guinea pig airways following allergen challenge, which occurs indirectly, secondary to cysLT1 receptor activation on structural cells and/ or leukocytes within the airway wall, and a COX-2 dependent synthesis of the eicosanoid. The results highlight the importance of cell-cell and autocrine interactions in regulating allergic responses in the airways.
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