The co-existence of immunoreactivities to substance P (SP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), cholecystokinin (CCK) and dynorphin (DYN) in neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of guinea-pigs has been investigated with a double-labelling immunofluorescence procedure. Four main populations of neurons could be identified that contained different combinations of these peptides and had distinctive peripheral projections: (1) Neurons that contained immunoreactivity to SP, CGRP, CCK and DYN were distributed mainly to the skin. (2) Neurons with immunoreactivity to SP, CGPR and CCK, but not DYN, were distributed mainly to the small blood vessels of skeletal muscles. (3) Neurons with immunoreactivity to SP, CGRP and DYN, but not CCK, were distributed mainly to pelvic viscera and airways. (4) Neurons containing immunoreactivity to SP and CGRP, but not CCK and DYN, were distributed mainly to the heart, systemic blood vessels, blood vessels of the abdominal viscera, airways and sympathetic ganglia. Other small populations of DRG neurons containing SP, CGRP or CCK alone also were detected. Perikarya containing these combinations of neuropeptides were not found in autonomic ganglia. The peripheral axons of neurons containing immunoreactivity to at least SP and CGRP were damaged by chronic treatment with capsaicin. However, some sensory neurons containing CCK alone were not affected morphologically by capsaicin. These results clearly show that individual DRG neurons can contain many different neuropeptides. Furthermore, the combination of neuropeptides found in any particular neuron is related to its peripheral projection.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide
- Guinea pig
- Neuropeptide coexistence
- Sensory neurons
- Substance P