Many studies that have sought to elucidate the role
of the autonomic nervous system in neural modulation of the inflammatory response have used various models of septic shock. For example, it has been seen that when macrophages are stimulated with LPS in vitro, the addition of acetylcholine, the principle vagal neurotransmitter, significantly attenuates the release of inflammatory cytokines, but not the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10.1 In vivo, intact vagal signaling has been shown to be necessary to activate the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, leading to decreased proinflammatory cytokine expression after endotoxin-induced shock.2 Thus, a physiologic connection between the nervous and innate immune systems has been confirmed, with potential for therapeutic Selleck AZD5363 exploitation. DAMP, damage-associated ABT 888 molecular pattern; IL, interleukin; I/R, ischemia/reperfusion; PACAP, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide. In this issue of HEPATOLOGY, Ji et al.3 investigate the role of
the neuropeptide pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and its receptors in warm hepatic ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). PACAP is not only expressed throughout the nervous system, but also in the adrenal gland, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and liver.4 PACAP is capable of binding several G protein–coupled receptors that are found on immune cells such as lymphocytes and macrophages, in addition to
hepatocytes.4 Ji et al. determined that both endogenous levels of PACAP increased after I/R, peaking at 12-24 hours after reperfusion, in addition to expression of all known receptors for PACAP.3 Interestingly, a protective role of PACAP was found, with mice deficient in functional PACAP having a significantly increased susceptibility to IR (wild-type versus knockout; 4,680 ± 554 versus 31,172 ± 6,994 IU/L).3 Confirming this finding, the addition of exogenous PACAP led to significant protection as seem by ALT levels and liver histology.3 Furthermore, exogenous administration of PACAP decreased neutrophil and macrophage infiltration, decreased inflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression, increased IL-10 levels, and decreased apoptosis.3 Mechanistically, check details PACAP was shown to increase cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels and protein kinase A activity, with the hepatoprotective effects of PACAP negated by addition of H-89, a protein kinase A inhibitor.31 The work by Ji et al. describes the novel role of a neuropeptide in hepatic I/R and provides us with a new therapeutic avenue to potentially abrogate the sterile inflammatory response after I/R. I/R is a process whereby an initial hypoxic insult and subsequent return of blood flow leads to the propagation of innate immune responses with resultant tissue damage and possible organ dysfunction.