The grain weevil, an insect (pest) that infects grain, is a frequent contaminant of processed wheat, and its presence may contribute to respiratory abnormalities in grain workers. We studied the in vitro effects of an extract of grain weevil (GWE) on airway smooth muscle. Pharmacologic studies included in vitro challenge of guinea pig trachea with GWE, in parallel organ baths, pretreated with mediator-modifying agents or a control solution. Dose-related contractions of nonsensitized guinea pig trachea (GPT) were demonstrated using this extract. Pharmacologic studies were performed by pretreating guinea pig tracheal tissue with drugs known to modulate smooth muscle contraction: atropine, indomethacin, pyrilamine, acivicin, NDGA, BPB, TMB8, captopril, and capsaicin. Atropine, pyrilamine, BPB, and capsaicin significantly reduced the contractile effects of the extract at most of the challenge doses (p < 0.01 or p < 0.05). Inhibition of GWE-induced contraction by blocking of other mediators was less complete. We suggest that GWE causes dose-related airway smooth muscle constriction of the GPT by nonimmunologic mechanisms involving a variety of airway mediators and possibly cholinergic receptors.
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