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Endogenous tachykinins cause bradycardia by stimulating cholinergic neurons in the isolated guinea pig heart.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee 37614, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine if endogenous tachykinins can cause bradycardia in the isolated perfused guinea pig heart through stimulation of cholinergic neurons. Capsaicin was used to stimulate release of tachykinins and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) from cardiac afferents. A bolus injection of 100 nmol capsaicin increased heart rate by 26 +/- 7% from a baseline of 257 +/- 14 beats/min (n = 6, P < 0.01). This positive chronotropic response was converted to a minor bradycardic effect in hearts with 1 microM CGRP-(8-37) present to block CGRP receptors. The negative chronotropic response to capsaicin was markedly potentiated in another group of hearts with the further addition of 0.5 microM neostigmine to inhibit cholinesterases. In this group, capsaicin decreased heart rate by 30 +/- 10% from a baseline of 214 +/- 6 beats/min (n = 8, P < 0.05). This large bradycardic response to capsaicin was inhibited by 1) infusion of neurokinin A to desensitize tachykinin receptors or 2) treatment with 1 microM atropine to block muscarinic receptors. The latter observations implicate tachykinins and acetylcholine, respectively, as mediators of the bradycardia. These findings support the hypothesis that endogenous tachykinins could mediate axon reflexes to stimulate cholinergic neurons of the intrinsic cardiac ganglia.

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