In this article, we review the immunohistochemical evidence for the pathway-specific expression of co-existing neuropeptides in autonomic vasomotor neurons, and examine the functional significance of these expression patterns for the autonomic regulation of the vasculature. Most final motor neurons in autonomic vasomotor pathways contain neuropeptides in addition to non-peptide co-transmitters such as catecholamines, acetylcholine and nitric oxide. Neuropeptides also occur in preganglionic vasomotor neurons. The precise combinations of neuropeptides expressed by neurons in vasomotor pathways vary with species, vascular bed, and the level within the vascular bed. This applies to both vasoconstrictor and vasodilator pathways. There is a similar degree of variation in the expression of neuropeptide receptors in the vasculature. Consequently, the contributions of different peptides to autonomic vasomotor control are closely matched to the functional requirements of specific vascular beds. This arrangement allows for a high degree of precision in vascular control in normal conditions and has the potential for considerable plasticity under pathophysiological conditions. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Neuropeptide Y
- Opioid peptides
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide