The acid proteases, pepsin, rennin and cathepsin D, were shown to generate mast cell histamine releasing peptides (HRP) when incubated with the albumin fraction of mammalian plasmas. Significant histamine release was observed using less than 1 microliter equivalent of pepsin-treated plasma. Histamine release was rapid, dependent on calcium and energy, and accompanied by degranulation. The major HRP present in pepsin-treated human and canine plasma was identified as H-Ile-Ala-Arg-Arg-His-Pro-Tyr-Phe-OH whereas that from rat plasma had valine substituted for isoleucine. Cathepsin D-treated BSA gave rise to the human octapeptide (above) as well as to an extended decapeptide with H-Tyr-Glu- at the N-terminus. These peptides were apparently derived from one region of serum albumin, residues 139 to 149 of the human, canine, or bovine sequence. We hypothesize that cathepsin D, released from leukocyte lysosomes, might generate HRP during the delayed phase of an inflammatory response.

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