Sensory Nerves pp 451-491 | Cite as

The Role of Peptides in Central Sensitization

Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 194)

Abstract

Peptides released in the spinal cord from the central terminals of nociceptors contribute to the persistent hyperalgesia that defines the clinical experience of chronic pain. Using substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) as examples, this review addresses the multiple mechanisms through which peptidergic neurotransmission contributes to the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Activation of CGRP receptors on terminals of primary afferent neurons facilitates transmitter release and receptors on spinal neurons increases glutamate activation of AMPA receptors. Both effects are mediated by cAMP-dependent mechanisms. Substance P activates neurokinin receptors (3 subtypes) which couple to phospholipase C and the generation of the intracellular messengers whose downstream effects include depolarizing the membrane and facilitating the function of AMPA and NMDA receptors. Activation of neurokinin-1 receptors also increases the synthesis of prostaglandins whereas activation of neurokinin-3 receptors increases the synthesis of nitric oxide. Both products act as retrograde messengers across synapses and facilitate nociceptive signaling in the spinal cord. Whereas these cellular effects of CGRP and SP at the level of the spinal cord contribute to the development of increased synaptic strength between nociceptors and spinal neurons in the pathway for pain, the different intracellular signaling pathways also activate different transcription factors. The activated transcription factors initiate changes in the expression of genes that contribute to long-term changes in the excitability of spinal and maintain hyperalgesia.

Keywords

Calcitonin gene-related peptide Substance P Neurokinin Spinal cord Hyperalgesia NFAT CREB Receptor Inflammation 

Abbreviations

AMPA

α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate

cAMP

Cyclic AMP

CaMK

Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase

CGRP

Calcitonin gene-related peptide

COX

Cyclo-oxygenase

CRE

Cyclic AMP response element

CREB

Cyclic AMP response element binding protein

CRLR

Calcitonin receptor-like receptor

ERK

Extracellular-signal-regulated kinase

mRNA

Messenger RNA

NFAT

Nuclear factor of activated T cells

NK1

Neurokinin 1

NK2

Neurokinin 2

NK3

Neurokinin 3

NKA

Neurokinin A

NKB

Neurokinin B

NOS

Nitric oxide synthase

NSAID

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

pCREB

Phosphorylated cyclic AMP response element binding protein

PGE2

Prostaglandin E2

PPT-A

Preprotachykinin A

RAMP

Receptor activity modifying protein

RCP

Receptor component protein

SP

Substance P

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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