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Intrathecal morphine inhibits substance P release from mammalian spinal cord in vivo

Naturevolume 286pages155157 (1980) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The central terminals of small diameter primary sensory neurones associated with the transmission of noxious cutaneous stimuli are located predominantly in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord1–3. Some of these neurones synthesize substance P (ref. 4) and transport this peptide to their central and peripheral terminals5–7. Substance P is released from the dorsal horn in vitro following potassium depolarization8,9; from spinal cord after electrical stimulation of dorsal roots10 and from dissociated sensory neurones grown in culture11. The iontophoretic application of substance P produces a long-lasting excitation of dorsal horn neurones that are also excited by noxious cutaneous stimuli12–14. One population of opiate receptors in the dorsal horn seems to be located on primary afferent terminals15–16; the release of substance P from primary sensory neurones is inhibited by opiates in vitro8,11. At present, however, there is no direct evidence that substance P is released from sensory neurones, in vivo, following activation of nociceptive afferents. We report here that substance P-like immunoreactivity is released from the mammalian spinal cord, in vivo, following chemical stimulation of sensory neurones with capsaicin and by the activation of high threshold peripheral afferents. Furthermore, release of substance P evoked by high intensity stimuli is completely inhibited by intrathecal morphine.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Neurologic Surgery, The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, 55901

    • T. L. Yaksh
  2. Department of Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115

    • T. M. Jessell
  3. Laboratory of Human Reproduction and Reproductive Biology and Department of Physiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115

    • R. Gamse
    • , A. W. Mudge
    •  & S. E. Leeman

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