Letter | Published:

Evidence that substance P is a neurotransmitter in the myenteric plexus

Subjects

Abstract

Substance P (SP) is an undecapeptide originally isolated from the gut1 and since shown to occur within neurones in several parts of the peripheral2,3 and central4 nervous systems. Immunohistochemical studies indicate an exceedingly dense network of SP-containing nerves within the myenteric plexus of the guinea pig ileum5,6. These nerves are intrinsic to the gut wall 5,7 and can release SP to contract the longitudinal muscle layer8,9. We have previously shown10,11 that SP directly depolarizes myenteric neurones and that this depolarization has a time course and ionic mechanism similar to the.slow excitatory postsynaptic potential (e.p.s.p.) which can be produced by electrical stimulation of presynaptic nerves within the myenteric ganglia. We wondered whether SP might mediate this slow synaptic potential10. We report here that the SP depolarization and the slow e.p.s.p. are reversibly depressed by chymotrypsin, an enzyme which degrades SP, although the responses to acetylcholine, serotonin and an unknown hyperpolarizing transmitter are unaffected. The results provide direct evidence that a peptide can mediate chemical transmission between neurones in the mammalian nervous system.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Von Euler, U. S. & Gaddum, J. H. J. Physiol., Lond. 72, 74–87 (1931).

  2. 2

    Nilsson, G. et al. Histochemistry 43, 97–99 (1975).

  3. 3

    Pearse, A. G. E. & Polak, J. M. Histochemistry 41, 373–375 (1975).

  4. 4

    Hokfelt, T. et al. in Substance P (eds Von Euler, U. S. & Pernow, B.) 117–145 (Raven, New York, 1977).

  5. 5

    Costa, M., Cuello, C., Furness, J. B. & Franco, R. Neuroscience 5, 323–331 (1980).

  6. 6

    Schultzberg, M. et al. Neuroscience 5, 689–744 (1980).

  7. 7

    Franco, R., Costa, M. & Furness, J. B. Naunyn-Schmeidebergs Archs Pharmak. 307, 57–63 (1979).

  8. 8

    Franco, R., Costa, M. & Furness, J. B. Naunyn-Schmeidebergs Archs Pharmak. 306, 185–201 (1979).

  9. 9

    Rosell, S. et al. in Substance P (eds Von Euler, U. S. & Pernow, B.) 83–88 (Raven, New York, 1977).

  10. 10

    Katayama, Y. & North, R. A. Nature 274, 387–388 (1978).

  11. 11

    Katayama, Y., North, R. A. & Williams, J. T. Proc. R. Soc. B206, 191–208 (1979).

  12. 12

    Nishi, S. & North, R. A. J. Physiol., Lond. 231, 471–491 (1973).

  13. 13

    Hirst, G. D. S., Holman, M. E. & Spence, I. J. Physiol., Lond. 236, 303–326 (1974).

  14. 14

    Johnson, S. M., Katayama, Y. & North, R. A. J. Physiol., Lond. 301, 505–516 (1980).

  15. 15

    Chang, M. M. & Leeman, S. E. J. biol. Chem. 254, 4784–4790 (1971).

  16. 16

    Wood, J. D. & Mayer, C. J. Nature 276, 836–837 (1979).

  17. 17

    Johnson, S. M., Katayama, Y. & North, R. A. J. Physiol., Lond. (in the press).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

To obtain permission to re-use content from this article visit RightsLink.

About this article

Publication history

  • Received

  • Accepted

  • Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/287151a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.