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J Neurosci. 1984 Dec;4(12):3101-11.

Calcitonin gene-related peptide immunoreactivity in the spinal cord of man and of eight other species.


Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) immunoreactivity was found throughout the entire spinal cord of man, marmoset, horse, pig, cat, guinea pig, mouse, rat, and frog. CGRP-immunoreactive fibers were most concentrated in the dorsal horn. In the ventral horn of some species large immunoreactive cells, tentatively characterized as motoneurons, were present. Pretreatment of rats with colchicine enhanced staining of these large cells but did not reveal CGRP-immunoreactive cell bodies in the dorsal horn. In the dorsal root ganglia, CGRP immunoreactivity was observed in most of the small and some of the intermediate sized cells. Substance P immunoreactivity, where present, was co-localized with CGRP to a proportion of the small cells. In the cat the ratio of substance P-immunoreactive to CGRP-immunoreactive ganglion cells was 1:2.7 (p less than 0.001). The concentration of CGRP-immunoreactive material in tissue extracts was determined by radioimmunoassay. In the dorsal horn of the rat spinal cord the levels of peptide were found to range from 225.7 +/- 30.0 pmol/gm of wet weight in the cervical region to 340.6 +/- 74.6 pmol/gm in the sacral spinal cord. In the rat ventral spinal cord, levels of 15.7 +/- 2.7 to 35.1 +/- 10.6 pmol/gm were found. The concentration in dorsal root ganglia of the lumbar region was 225.4 +/- 46.9 pmol/gm. Gel permeation chromatography of this extractable CGRP-like immunoreactivity revealed three distinct immunoreactive peaks, one eluting at the position of synthetic CGRP and the others, of smaller size, eluting later. In cats and rats, rhizotomy induced a marked loss of CGRP-immunoreactive fibers from the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. In the cat, unilateral lumbosacral dorsal rhizotomy resulted in a significant (p less than 0.05) reduction of extractable CGRP from the ipsilateral lumbar dorsal horn (5.6 +/- 1.2 pmol/gm of wet weight) compared to the contralateral side (105.0 +/- 36.0 pmol/gm of wet weight). We conclude that the major origin of CGRP in the dorsal spinal cord is extrinsic, from afferent fibers which are probably derived from cells in the dorsal root ganglia. The selective distribution of CGRP throughout sensory, motor, and autonomic areas of the spinal cord suggests many putative roles for this novel peptide.

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