Short peptides with sequences derived from those found in the tegumental antigen of Fasciola hepatica have been synthesised. Incubation of some of these peptides with rat peritoneal mast cells resulted in the degranulation of the cells as measured by a histamine release assay. This activity was shown to be associated with the proline-lysine-proline motif, which is responsible for the induction of mast cell degranulation by the mammalian bioactive peptide substance P. Studies on the mode of action of the fluke-derived peptide indicated that it was operating through the same biochemical pathways as substance P. The implications of these findings for the development of immune responses during parasite infections are discussed. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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