Neutral endopeptidase (NEP; EC. 3.4.24.11) is a type 2 cell surface metalloprotease known by a variety of eponyms, including enkephalinase, common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen, and CD10. Identified substrates are largely neural or humoral oligopeptide agonists, and the enzyme functions to terminate signaling by degrading the ligand, analogously to acetylcholine/acetylcholinesterase. Targeted disruption of the NEP locus in mice results in enhanced lethality to endotoxin shock with a pronounced gene dosage effect. The site(s) of action appears downstream from release of tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-1 since NEP-deficient animals demonstrate increased sensitivity to these mediators as well. This unexpected finding indicates an important protective role for NEP in septic shock.

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