Receptor for calcitonin gene-related peptide: localization in the dorsal and ventral spinal cord. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although the distribution of calcitonin gene-related peptide has been extensively studied in the spinal cord, little is known about the precise subcellular localization of receptors for calcitonin gene-related peptide. The present study was undertaken to localize calcitonin gene-related peptide receptors in both the dorsal and ventral horns of the rat spinal cord. Immunocytochemical localization with specific monoclonal antibodies was performed at the light and electron microscopic levels. Calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor was expressed in neuronal but not glial elements. Discrete postsynaptic localization of receptor for the calcitonin gene-related peptide was evident in the cells and dendrites of the superficial dorsal horn. Some of the terminal endings apposing the stained synapses formed the central terminals of glomerular complexes. The endings were scallop shaped (Type I), typical of primary afferent terminations. Other dorsal horn structures with postsynaptic labeling were contacted by dome-shaped or elongated axonal endings. Presynaptic localization on some dorsal horn terminations may serve an autoreceptor function. Motoneurons, on the other hand, were contacted by axonal terminals with presynaptic calcitonin gene-related peptide receptors. These data suggest that (i) dorsal horn neurons are capable of direct primary afferent, calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor-mediated interactions and (ii) neuronal terminals contacting motor horn cells can be influenced through presynaptic paracrine-like calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor-mediated interactions. Thus, calcitonin gene-related peptide can have multiple modulatory effects on spinal cord neurons through site-specific receptors.

publication date

  • January 1, 1999