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A VIP-containing system concentrated in the lumbosacral region of human spinal cord


Neuropeptides were first localized in the human spinal cord by immunocytochemistry1 and substance P has been shown, by the same method, to be reduced ipsilaterally in the dorsal horn after limb amputation2 and bilaterally in the Riley–Day syndrome3. Several neuropeptides increasingly fulfil the criteria to establish them as neurotransmitters or neuromodulators4, and they may also have trophic actions in the spinal cord5. Using radioimmunoassay and immunocytochemistry, we present here for the first time a quantitative regional distribution and localization of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), substance P, somatostatin, bombesin and cholecystokinin (CCK-8) in normal postmortem human spinal cord. A comparison of the distribution of these peptides reveals an exceptional pattern for VIP, with relatively much higher levels in the lumbosacral region. Immunocytochemical analysis shows a distinctive distribution of VIP-containing fibres and terminals at the lumbosacral segments. This VIP-containing system may have an important role in the spinal control of urogenital function in man.

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Anand, P., Gibson, S., McGregor, G. et al. A VIP-containing system concentrated in the lumbosacral region of human spinal cord. Nature 305, 143–145 (1983).

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