Detection and characterisation of neurotransmitters, particularly peptides, in the gastrointestinal tract

J. B. Furness, M. Costa, R. Murphy, A. M. Beardsley, JR Oliver, Ida Llewellyn-Smith, R. L. Eskay, Arthur Shulkes, T. W. Moody, DK Meyer

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    28 Citations (Scopus)


    There are now about twelve substances, many of them peptides, that are thought to act as neurotransmitters in the enteric nervous system. Most of the studies of peptides have relied on immunochemical methods for their detection. However, difficulties arise in these studies because of the close similarities between peptides. Related peptides can be grouped in several ways according to similarities of origin, function, effects in bioassays and amino acid sequences. Peptides with the same function in different species, and only slight differences in amino acid sequences, have been called isopeptides. Peptide families that have sequences of amino acids in common, but do not necessarily have similar functions are described. In the guinea-pig small intestine, used as a model, the concentrations of fourteen nerve-related peptides and amines are compared. The actual chemical natures of the peptides are discussed. It is concluded that nerves containing authentic leu- and met-enkephelin, somatostatin and substance P are present. VIP in guinea-pig enteric nerves is different from the porcine standard. Peptides similar to authentic CCK8 and amphibian skin bombesin are present. Angiotensin and neurotensin-like peptides show immunohistochemically are not the authentic peptides. In the longitudinal muscle plus myenteric plexus, most neuropeptide concentrations are in the range of 10-500 pmole/g. The exception is met-enkephalin (1,300 pmole/g). The amine transmitters have considerably higher concentrations, noradrenaline having a concentration of about 3,500 pmole/g and acetylcholine 1-2 x 105 pmole/g.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-70
    Number of pages10
    JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, Supplement
    Publication statusPublished - 1982


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