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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1997 Jan;280(1):238-46.

Effect of tachykinin receptor inhibition in the brain on cardiovascular and behavioral responses to stress.

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  • 1Department of Phamacology, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany.


The neurokinins, substance P (SP) and neurokinin A (NKA) represent natural, nonspecific ligands of NK1 and NK2 receptors. In our study in conscious rats, we tested the hypothesis that neurokinins, especially SP, are used by neuronal circuits to generate cardiovascular and behavioral responses to stress by using the selective, high-affinity, nonpeptide antagonists of NK1 and NK2 receptors, CP-96, 345, RP 67580 and SR 48968, respectively, Formalin injected s.c. through a chronically implanted catheter in the region of the lower leg was used as a stress stimulus. The antagonists and their inactive enantiomers, RP 68651 and SR 48965, as a control for nonspecific activity, were injected intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) 10 min before the s.c. injection of formalin. Formalin (2.5%, 50 microliters, s.c.) induced a marked increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) as well as hind limb grooming/biting (HG) as the dominant behavioral manifestation. Pretreatment with the NK1 receptor antagonist, CP-96,345 (5 nmol, i.c.v.), significantly attenuated only the HR (-54%; P < .01) but not the MAP response to formalin. The NK1 receptor antagonist, RP 67580, injected i.c.v. at doses of 100, 500 and 2500 pmol significantly reduced both, the MAP and HR responses to formalin by maximally 63% (P < .01) and 52% (P < .01), respectively. In a separate set of experiments, we compared the effect of the individual and simultaneous blockade of central NK1 and NK2 receptors on the cardiovascular and behavioral responses to formalin stress. Pretreatment with RP 67580 (100 pmol, i.c.v.) attenuated the MAP (-30%; P < .05), HR (-40%; P < .01) and HG (P < .05) responses to formalin. The NK2 receptor antagonist, SR 48968 (650 pmol, i.c.v.), affected neither the cardiovascular nor the behavioral responses. i.c.v. pretreatment with both tachykinin receptor antagonists (RP 67580: 100 pmol; SR 48968: 650 pmol) reduced the MAP, HR and HG responses to formalin to the same extent as RP 67580 alone. Pretreatment with the inactive enantiomers, RP 68651 (100 pmol, i.c.v.) and SR 48965 (650 pmol, i.c.v.) did not alter the cardiovascular and behavioral responses to formalin. Our results demonstrate that centrally administered NK1 receptor antagonists inhibit the cardiovascular and behavioral reactions in response to a noxious stimulus. They provide first pharmacological evidence that endogenous SP acts as mediator of stress responses in the brain.

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