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Enkephalin-, VIP- and substance P-like immunoreactivity in the carotid body

Abstract

The carotid body type I cell contains amines1–3 and has features, both morphological and cytochemical, which indicate that it may also produce a peptide4–6. Many regulatory peptides are now known to be present in both central and peripheral tissues7. In the periphery these neuropeptides occur in both classical endocrine (APUD) cells and the neurones of the autonomic nervous system8. We have now investigated the possible presence of neuropeptides in the cat carotid body using both immunocytochemistry and radioimmunoassay. Met- and Leu-enkephalin-like material occurred in considerable quantities in carotid body extracts and enkephalin-like immunoreactivity was localised in type I cells. Both vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)- and substance P-like immunoreactivity was also present but was localised in nerve fibres distributed throughout the organ. These active neuropeptides are widely distributed in mammalian tissues, forming a diffuse regulatory system which now seems to include the carotid body.

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