We have previously shown that carotid body stimulation by lysophosphatidic acid elicits a reflex stimulation of vagal efferent activity sufficient to cause bronchoconstriction in asthmatic rats.  Here, we show that pathophysiological concentrations of asthma-associated prototypical Th2 cytokines also stimulate the carotid bodies.  Stimulation of the carotid bodies by these asthmakines involves a PKCε-TRPV1 signalling mechanism likely dependent on TRPV1 S502 and T704 phosphorylation sites.  As the carotid bodies’ oxygen sensitivity is independent of PKCε-TRPV1 signalling, systemic blockade of PKCε may provide a novel therapeutic target to reduce allergen induced asthmatic bronchoconstriction.  This is supported by our data demonstrating that systemic delivery of a PKCε blocking peptide suppresses asthmatic respiratory distress in response to allergen and reduces airway hyperresponsiveness to bradykinin.
The autonomic nervous system orchestrates organ-specific, systemic and behavioural responses to inflammation. Recently, we demonstrated a vital role for lysophosphatidic acid in stimulating the primary autonomic oxygen chemoreceptors, the carotid bodies, in parasympathetic-mediated asthmatic airway hyperresponsiveness. However, the cacophony of stimulatory factors and cellular mechanisms of carotid body activation are unknown. Therefore, we set out to determine intracellular signalling involved in carotid body mediated sensing of asthmatic blood-borne inflammatory mediators. We employed a range of in vitro and rat in situ preparations, site-directed mutagenesis, patch-clamp, nerve recordings and pharmacological inhibition to assess cellular signalling. We show that the carotid bodies are also sensitive to asthma associated prototypical Th2 cytokines which elicit sensory nerve excitation. This provides additional asthmatic ligands contributing to the previously established reflex arc resulting in efferent vagal activity and asthmatic bronchoconstriction. This novel sensing role for the carotid body is mediated by a PKCε-dependent stimulation of TRPV1, likely via TRPV1 phosphorylation at sites T704 and S502. Importantly, carotid body oxygen sensing was unaffected by blocking either PKCε or TRPV1. Further we demonstrate that systemic PKCε blockade reduces asthmatic respiratory distress in response to allergen and airway hyperresponsiveness. These discoveries support an inflammation-dependent, oxygen-independent function for the carotid body and, suggest that targeting PKCε provides a novel therapeutic option to abate allergic airway disease without altering life-saving autonomic hypoxic reflexes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.