Neurogenic mechanisms in bronchial inflammatory diseases

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Neurogenic inflammation encompasses the release of neuropeptides from airway nerves leading to inflammatory effects. This neurogenic inflammatory response of the airways can be initiated by exogenous irritants such as cigarette smoke or gases and is characterized by a bi-directional linkage between airway nerves and airway inflammation. The event of neurogenic inflammation may participate in the development and progression of chronic inflammatory airway diseases such as allergic asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The molecular mechanisms underlying neurogenic inflammation are orchestrated by a large number of neuropeptides including tachykinins such as substance P and neurokinin A, or calcitonin gene-related peptide. Also, other biologically active peptides such as neuropeptide tyrosine, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide or endogenous opioids may modulate the inflammatory response and recently, novel tachykinins such as virokinin and hemokinins were identified. Whereas the different aspects of neurogenic inflammation have been studied in detail in laboratory animal models, only little is known about the role of airway neurogenic inflammation in human diseases. However, different functional properties of airway nerves may be used as targets for future therapeutic strategies and recent clinical data indicates that novel dual receptor antagonists may be relevant new drugs for bronchial asthma or COPD.

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