Original Research Paper

Inflammation Research

, Volume 60, Issue 12, pp 1139-1151

First online:

HMC-1 human mast cells synthesize neurotensin (NT) precursor, secrete bioactive NT-like peptide(s) and express NT receptor NTS1

  • David E. CochraneAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Tufts University Email author 
  • , Robert E. CarrawayAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • , Kimberly HarringtonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Tufts University
  • , Melissa LaudanoAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Tufts University
  • , Stephen RawlingsAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Tufts University
  • , Ross S. FeldbergAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Tufts University

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Objective and design

To determine if mast cells synthesize the inflammatory peptide, neurotensin (NT), secrete immunoreactive and bioactive NT, and express the NT receptor NTS1.


HMC-1 cells, pleural mast cells from Sprague–Dawley rats, LAD2 mast cells, and human cord blood mast cells were used.


HMC-1 cells were stimulated with NT, C48/80, mastoparan, or PGE2. For changes in cutaneous vascular permeability, anesthetized rats were injected intravenously with Evans Blue dye and intradermally with saline, NT, histamine, diphenhydramine, and C48/80.


RT-PCR was used to identify RNA transcripts. Histamine was measured by fluorometric assay. In vivo cutaneous vascular permeability assays, radio-immunoassays for NT, Western blotting for the NT precursor protein and NTS1 protein from HMC-1 cells and tissues from rats were used. Immunohistochemistry was used to identify NT precursor-like proteins in HMC-1 mast cells.


HMC-1 cells express mRNAs for NT precursor, PC5A processing enzyme and NTS1 receptor. Human cord blood mast cells and LAD2 mast cells express mRNA transcripts for NT precursor and NTS1. Western blotting showed NT precursor and NTS1 receptor in HMC1. Rat tissues with high numbers of mast cells contained NT precursor proteins. NT-like peptides from HMC-1 displayed NT-like bioactivity.


HMC-1 mast cells synthesize and secrete immunoreactive and bioactive NT-like peptide(s) and express the NT receptor, suggesting that NT from mast cells might serve autocrine and paracrine roles.


HMC-1 mast cell Neurotensin Neurotensin receptor Tumor growth