Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

  • Transport Processes, Metabolism and Endocrinology; Kidney, Gastrointestinal Tract, and Exocrine Glands
  • Published:

Substance P: Indirect and direct effects on parotid acinar cell membrane potential

  • 15 Accesses

  • 12 Citations


Direct effects of exogenously applied substance P on salivary acinar cells have been previously reported. This electro-physiological study confirms these direct effects in rat but not mouse parotid gland. We demonstrate that in the absence of autonomic blockade the peptide evokes marked responses which are blocked by atropine (10−6 M). These effects cannot be attributed to direct activation of acinar cells and are presumably due to release of acetylcholine from parasympathetic nerve endings. We consider that substance P, in addition to direct effects, could act to modulate neuronal activity in salivary glands; a role already assigned to the peptide in the central nervous system.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barker J L (1976) Peptides: roles in neuronal excitability. Physiol Rev 56:435–452

  2. Chang MM, Leeman SE (1970) Isolation of a sialogogic peptide from bovine hypothalamic tissue and its characterisation as substance P. J Biol Chem 245:4784–4790

  3. Duggan AW (1978) Peptides as neurotransmitters. Proc Aust Physiol Pharmacol Soc 9:104–108

  4. Friedman ZY, Selinger Z (1978) A transient release of potassium mediated by the action of substance P on rat parotid slices. J Physiol (Lond) 278:461–469

  5. Gallacher DV, Petersen OH (1980a) Substance P increases membrane conductance in parotid acinar cells. Nature 283:393–395

  6. Gallacher DV, Petersen OH (1980b) Electrophysiology of mouse parotid acini: effects of electrical field stimulation and ionophoresis of neurotransmitters. J Physiol (Lond) 305:43–47

  7. Henry JL, Krnjevic K, Morris ME (1975) Substance P and spinal neurones. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 53:423–432

  8. Iwatsuki N, Petersen OH (1978) In vitro action of bombesin on amylase secretion, membrane potential and membrane resistance in rat and mouse pancreatic acinar cells. J Clin Invest 61:41–46

  9. Katayama Y, North RA (1978) Does substance P mediate slow synaptic excitation within the myenteric plexus? Nature 274:387–388

  10. Krnjevic K, Morris ME (1973) An excitatory action of substance P on cuneate neurones. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 52:736–744

  11. Lundberg A (1958) Electrophysiology of salivary glands. Physiol Rev 38:21–40

  12. Nishiyama A, Petersen OH (1974) Membrane potential and resistance measurement in acinar cells from salivary glands in vitro: effect of acetylcholine. J Physiol (Lond) 242:173–188

  13. Pepeu G (1974) The release of acetylcholine from the brain: an approach to the study of central cholinergic mechanisms. Prog Neurobiol 2:259–288

  14. Petersen OH, Philpott HG (1979) Pancreatic acinar cells: effects of microionophoretic polypeptide application on membrane potential and resistance. J Physiol (Lond) 290:305–315

  15. Roberts ML, Iwatsuki N, Petersen OH (1978) Parotid acinar cells: ionic dependence of acetylcholine-evoked membrane potential changes. Pflügers Arch 376:159–167

  16. Robinson SE, Schwartz JP, Costa E (1980) Substance P in the superior cervical ganglion and the submaxillary gland of the rat. Brain Res 182:11–17

  17. Rudich L, Butcher FR (1976) Effect of substance P and eledoisin on K+ efflux, amylase release and cyclic nucloetide levels in slices of rat parotid gland. Biochim Biophys Acta 444:704–711

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to O. H. Petersen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gallacher, D.V., Petersen, O.H. Substance P: Indirect and direct effects on parotid acinar cell membrane potential. Pflugers Arch. 389, 127–130 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00582102

Download citation

Key words

  • Substance P
  • Salivary gland
  • Electrophysiology
  • Pharmacological blockade
  • Neurohormone