Changes in amino acid sensitivity during polypeptide ‘desensitisation’


CURRENT interest in polypeptides as neurotransmitter substances in the central nervous system (CNS) has been focused on their ability to depolarise motoneurones1 and to excite single cells in various parts of the brain2–6. An additional feature of their actions on nervous tissue, however, is the development of ‘tachyphylaxis’ or ‘desensitisation’ to their effects during repeated administration. This phenomenon has been reported with two structurally related undecapeptides in particular, substance P and eledoisin, both in spinal cord7 and in brain3–5. We report here that in the substantia nigra additional changes in amino acid sensitivity occur during such a period of desensitisation to eledoisin.

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