Adrenalectomy increases the number of substance P and somatostatin immunoreactive nerve cells in the rat lumbar dorsal root ganglia.
Neuropeptides, including substance P (SP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and somatostatin (SS) in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) may play a role in neurogenic inflammation and pain transmission. Adrenal corticosteroids regulate neuropeptide synthesis in some areas of the CNS and may modulate neurogenic inflammation and sensory perception. We have investigated the effects of adrenalectomy and dexamethasone (0.2 mg/kg/day) treatment on neuropeptide content of rat cervical DRG using specific and sensitive radioimmunoassays. In control animals, a differential distribution of neuropeptide was found; SP and CGRP content increased from C4 to C7 in contrast to SS content, which decreased from C4 to C7. Ten days following adrenalectomy, the mean SS content of cervical DRG decreased significantly to 79.6 +/- 4.5% of sham-operated controls. In contrast, SP and CGRP content increased significantly 10 days after adrenalectomy to 134.6 +/- 6.9% and 132.0 +/- 11.6% of sham-operated controls, respectively. The effects of adrenalectomy on CGRP and SS were reversed by administration of dexamethasone. These results suggest that glucocorticoids affect the neuropeptide content of DRG in the adult rat.