Neurokinin 1 receptor promotes rat airway smooth muscle cell migration in asthmatic airway remodelling by enhancing tubulin expression

Bing Wei, Mingwei Sun, Yunxiao Shang, Chao Zhang, Xuyong Jiao


Background: Airway remodelling is a major contributor to hyper-responsiveness leading to chronic asthma; however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effects of a neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) antagonist (WIN62577) on the migration of airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs) and the expression of NK1R and alpha-tubulin in airway remodelling using young rats with asthma.
Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into a control group and airway remodelling group. Rats in the model group were stimulated with ovalbumin for 8 weeks. Primary ASMCs were cultured and purified from all rats, and then treated with different doses of WIN62577. The expression of NK1R and α-tubulin in ASMCs was assessed using immunofluorescence, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and western blotting. Changes in ASMC migration were detected by a transwell chamber assay.
Results: The transwell assay showed that the number of migrating ASMCs in the asthmatic airway remodelling group was significantly greater than that in the control group (P<0.01), which was inhibited by WIN62577 in a dose-dependent manner, with peak inhibition detected at 10−8 mol/L. The mRNA and protein expression levels of NK1R and α-tubulin were significantly higher in the asthmatic airway remodelling group than in the control group (P<0.05 and P<0.01, respectively), and were significantly decreased after treatment with WIN62577 (P<0.01 and P<0.05, respectively).
Conclusions: NK1R antagonists may suppress ASMC migration in a rat model of airway remodelling by inhibiting tubulin expression, indicating a new potential target for the treatment and control of chronic asthma.