Contributions of histamine, prostanoids, and neurokinins to edema elicited by edema toxin from Bacillus anthracis

Jeffrey Tessier, Candace Green, Diana Padgett, Wei Zhao, Lawrence Schwartz, Molly Hughes, Erik Hewlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Bacillus anthracis edema toxin (ET), composed of protective antigen and an adenylate cyclase edema factor (EF), elicits edema in host tissues, but the target cells and events leading from EF-mediated cyclic-AMP production to edema are unknown. We evaluated the direct effect of ET on several cell types in vitro and tested the possibility that mediators of vascular leakage, such as histamine, contribute to edema in rabbits given intradermal ET. ET increased the transendothelial electrical resistance of endothelial monolayers, a response that is mechanistically inconsistent with the in vivo vascular leakage induced by ET. Screening of several drugs by intradermal treatment prior to toxin injection demonstrated reduced ET-induced vascular leakage with a cyclo-oxygenase inhibitor (indomethacin), agents that interfere with histamine (pyrilamine or cromolyn), or a neurokinin antagonist (spantide). Systemic administration of indomethacin or celecoxib (cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors), pyrilamine, aprepitant (a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist), or indomethacin with pyrilamine significantly reduced vascular leakage associated with ET. Although the effects of pyrilamine, cromolyn, or aprepitant on ET-induced vascular leakage suggest a possible role for mast cells (MC) and sensory neurons in ET-induced edema, ET did not elicit degranulation of human skin MC or substance P release from NT2N cells in vitro. Our results indicate that ET, acting indirectly or directly on a target yet to be identified, stimulates the production/release of multiple inflammatory mediators, specifically neurokinins, prostanoids, and histamine. These mediators, individually and through complex interactions, increase vascular permeability, and interventions directed at these mediators may benefit hosts infected with B. anthracis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1895-1903
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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