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Pain. 1986 Dec;27(3):391-9.

Peptide-containing nerve fibres in human extracranial tissue: a morphological basis for neuropeptide involvement in extracranial pain?


It has been suggested that a number of peptides may be involved in the transmission of pain. In order to evaluate the possible role of peptides in the development of headache, we have, in the present study, examined the presence of nerve fibres containing neuropeptide Y (NPY), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in human temporal and occipital tissues. In the skin, delicate VIP, SP and CGRP fibres occur beneath the epidermis, sometimes running into the folds of the dermal ridges. In deeper layers of the dermis, small blood vessels are occasionally surrounded by single nerve fibres containing NPY, VIP, SP and CGRP. Large temporal and occipital arteries are surrounded by a meshwork of such fibres. In addition, NPY and VIP fibres are seen around sweat glands and hair follicles. Smooth muscle bundles in the dermis are surrounded by VIP fibres, whereas the temporal muscle per se is devoid of such fibres.

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