Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The distribution of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactive nerve fibres in the palate of rat, cat and monkey was studied using immunocytochemistry and radioimmunoassay. CGRP-containing nerve fibres were found, in all species studied, to form a rich plexus in the subepithelial and submucous layers, around excretory ducts and blood vessels. A small number of CGRP-containing nerve fibres penetrated the epithelium of the hard and soft palate, and terminated as free endings. Some CGRP-containing nerve fibres were found in the vicinity of the mucous glands. CGRP-immunoreactive motor end plates were seen in the striated muscle (tensor veli palatini) of the soft palate. Following capsaicin treatment a small depletion in CGRP-immunoreactive nerve fibres in the rat palate epithelium was noted. In contrast, CGRP immunoreactive fibres forming rich plexuses in other layers of the palate, including motor end plates, were not affected. The extractable CGRP showed no significant depletion (normal animals [n=10] 21.7±2.4 pmol/g compared with capsaicin-treated animals [n=10] 17.5±1.8 pmol CGRP/g wet weight). The reduction in the number of visible immunoreactive nerves following capsaicin application tends to confirm the sensory character of the CGRP-containing nerve fibres terminating in the epithelium of the hard and soft palate. The capsaicin insensitive CGRP-immunoreactive nerve fibres may thus have a predominantly motor function. The unilateral section of the mandibulary division of trigeminal, hypoglossal, glossopharyngeal and superior laryngeal nerve caused a depletion of variable severity in the ipsilateral CGRP-immunoreactive nerve fibres in the epithelium, subepithelial and periductal plexus and in motor end plates. These findings are in agreement with the radioimmunoassay results, which detect 22.7±1.0 pmol/g in normal tissues, 19.7±1.0 pmol/g after section of trigeminal nerve, and 18.6±1.2 pmol/g after simultaneous sectioning of the trigeminal, hypoglossal, glossopharyngeal, laryngeal and recurrent nerves. We conclude that CGRP is present in both sensory and motor components of cranial nerves which innervate the palate.
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