Substance P (SP) is a neuropeptide widely distributed in the nervous system. Its release within the bone marrow (BM) can mediate bidirectional neurohematopoietic communication via specific receptors: neurokinin-1R (NK-1R), NK-2R, or NK-3R. We have previously reported that SP effects on hematopoiesis are mediated by an NK-1-type receptor, the BM stroma, and growth factors. Here, we have studied the induction of stem cell factor (SCF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) by SP in stroma. At 10(-9) mol/L SP, cytokine levels in supernatants were IL-1 alpha, 20 +/- 5 ng/mL; IL-1 beta, 40 +/- 10 ng/mL; and SCF, nondetectable; and the cell-associated levels were SCF, 21 +/- 2 ng/mL; IL-1 alpha, 90 +/- 6 ng/mL; and IL-1 beta, 45 +/- 3 ng/mL. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and ligand-binding studies with stroma stimulated by these two cytokines resulted in (1) NK-1-like receptor mRNA accumulation and (2) downregulation of SP binding sites (day 1) followed by an upregulation (day 3). Low numbers of high-affinity receptors were expressed by day 1 but not by day 3. The results indicate that SP induces IL-1 and SCF in stroma and that these cytokines have the potential to autoregulate NK-R.