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Neuroscience. 1988 Apr;25(1):195-205.

Differential expression of alpha-CGRP and beta-CGRP by primary sensory neurons and enteric autonomic neurons of the rat.

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Department of Medicine, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, U.K.


Expression of the calcitonin gene-related peptide, alpha-calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), and the homologous beta-CGRP were compared in sensory and enteric nerves of the rat. Analysis of CGRP-like immunoreactivity by cation exchange chromatography and radioimmunoassay showed that in the dorsal root ganglia, dorsal spinal cord and in those peripheral tissues where CGRP-like immunoreactivity is primarily localized to sensory fibres, alpha-CGRP concentrations were three to six times greater than beta-CGRP concentrations. In the intestine, however, beta-CGRP concentrations were up to seven times greater than alpha-CGRP concentrations. Only beta-CGRP was detected in the intestines of capsaicin-treated rats. Northern blot and in situ hybridization to alpha-CGRP- and beta-CGRP-specific probes showed that while both alpha-CGRP and beta-CGRP messenger ribonucleic acids occurred in the dorsal root ganglia, only beta-CGRP messenger ribonucleic acid occurred in the intestine, where it was localized to enteric neurons. Receptor binding sites on membranes of rat heart and colon had approximately equal affinities for alpha-CGRP and beta-CGRP. The two peptides were equipotent in increasing the rate and force of atrial contractions but alpha-CGRP was slightly (2.6 times) more potent than beta-CGRP in relaxing colonic smooth muscle. Thus, both alpha-CGRP and beta-CGRP occur in the rat nervous system and are both biologically active. Sensory neurons and enteric neurons have been identified as populations which preferentially express alpha-CGRP and beta-CGRP, respectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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