Effects of prolonged inhalation of N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine in rabbits

M. J. Peters*, K. Panaretto, A. B X Breslin, N. Berend

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


On the basis of its potent proinflammatory and spasmogenic effects, N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP), a bacterial oligopeptide, is a putative mediator of bronchoconstriction and airway inflammation during bacterial bronchial infection. However, after an FMLP dose-response curve in rabbits, tachyphylaxis to a second challenge was seen in some rabbits and airway inflammation was absent. This study was designed to reproduce the more prolonged airway exposure to FMLP that may occur during bacterial infection. Two groups of rabbits received FMLP [5 mg/ml in 66% dimethyl sulfoxide-(DMSO) saline] or DMSO diluent alone by nebulization every 15 min for 2 h. Pulmonary resistance (RL) was measured at 1 and 2 h. Recovery from bronchoconstriction was also assessed by measuring RL every 30 min for 2 h after the final FMLP administration. Sections of trachea and large bronchi were prepared and graded by quadrant from 0 to 3 for inflammation, a total score from 0 to 12 being given for each section. There was a progressive increase in RL in FMLP-treated rabbits, reaching 68 ± 9% above baseline after 120 min, a significantly greater change than after diluent, 8 ± 12% (P < 0.01). RL remained elevated above baseline for 90 min after the final FMLP dose. Inflammation scores were greater after FMLP than DMSO: 9.3 ± 0.5 vs. 4.3 ± 0.7 (P < 0.01) in trachea and 5.2 ± 0.4 vs. 1.7 ± 0.5 (P < 0.01) in lobar bronchi. We conclude that prolonged exposure of airways to FMLP produces a sustained increase in RL and airway inflammation, the cardinal features of infective exacerbations of chronic airflow limitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2448-2454
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • airway inflammation
  • bacteria
  • bronchial infection
  • bronchoconstriction
  • formylpeptides


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