BACKGROUND--There is growing evidence to suggest the importance of the lymphocyte in the pathogenesis of asthma, particularly in the late phase reactions and ongoing bronchial hyperreactivity. Platelet activating factor (PAF) has also been identified as a potentially important mediator in asthma. METHODS--The migration of human peripheral blood lymphocytes obtained from normal volunteers in response to PAF and the effect of PAF antagonists was studied in a well standardised in vitro assay using nitrocellulose micropore filters in a microchemotaxis chamber. RESULTS--PAF is a potent stimulus to in vitro human lymphocyte migration; at an optimal concentration of 1 nM it augmented lymphocyte chemokinesis to 310% (SE 33%) of control values. The response to PAF appears to be specific since lyso-PAF and other related membrane phospholipids had no effect. PAF-induced migration could be abrogated by specific PAF receptor antagonists such as WEB 2086 (100 nM), and was partially blocked by the cyclooxygenase inhibitor flurbiprofen at a concentration of 1 microM. CONCLUSIONS--PAF stimulates the in vitro migration of human lymphocytes through a specific PAF receptor. Part of the response may be due to the generation of cyclooxygenase products. PAF may play a part in the recruitment of lymphocytes to asthmatic airways.
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