Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), one of the key lipid mediators of allergic airway inflammation, is increased in the airways of asthmatics. However, the role of PGD2 in the pathogenesis of asthma is not fully understood. In the present study, effects of PGD2 on smooth muscle contractility of the airways were determined to elucidate its role in the development of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). In a murine model of allergic asthma, antigen challenge to the sensitized animals caused a sustained increase in PGD2 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluids, indicating that smooth muscle cells of the airways are continually exposed to PGD2 after the antigen exposure. In bronchial smooth muscles (BSMs) isolated from naive mice, a prolonged incubation with PGD2 (10−5 M, for 24 h) induced an augmentation of contraction induced by acetylcholine (ACh): the ACh concentration-response curve was significantly shifted upward by the 24-h incubation with PGD2. Application of PGD2 caused phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and p38 in cultured BSM cells: both of the PGD2-induced events were abolished by laropiprant (a DP1 receptor antagonist) but not by fevipiprant (a DP2 receptor antagonist). In addition, the BSM hyperresponsiveness to ACh induced by the 24-h incubation with PGD2 was significantly inhibited by co-incubation with SB203580 (a p38 inhibitor), whereas U0126 (a ERK1/2 inhibitor) had no effect on it. These findings suggest that prolonged exposure to PGD2 causes the BSM hyperresponsiveness via the DP1 receptor-mediated activation of p38. A sustained increase in PGD2 in the airways might be a cause of the AHR in allergic asthmatics.
Rubratoxin A, a potent inhibitor of PP2A, is known to suppress smooth muscle contraction. The inhibitory role of PP2A in smooth muscle contraction is still unclear. In order to clarify the regulatory mechanisms of PP2A on vascular smooth muscle contractility, we examined the effects of rubratoxin A on the Ca2+-induced contraction of β-escin skinned carotid artery preparations from guinea pigs. Rubratoxin A at 1 µM and 10 µM significantly inhibited skinned carotid artery contraction at any Ca2+ concentration. The data fitting to the Hill equation in [Ca2+]-contraction relationship indicated that rubratoxin A decreased Fmax-Ca2+ and increased [Ca2+]50, indices of Ca2+ sensitivity for the force and myosin-actin interaction, respectively. These results suggest that PP2A inhibition causes downregulation of the myosin light chain phosphorylation and direct interference with myosin-actin interaction.