Dexamethasone and activators of the protein kinase A and C signal transduction pathways regulate neuronal calcitonin gene-related peptide expression and release. Academic Article uri icon


  • Primary cultures of adult rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons were used to determine if activation of either the protein kinase A or C signal transduction pathways or treatment with the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone modulate neuronal calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) synthesis and release. DRG are the sites of neuronal cell bodies known to produce abundant CGRP levels, and to send axons peripherally to blood vessels and centrally to the spinal cord. Using immunocytochemical techniques, we confirmed that synthesis of immunoreactive CGRP (iCGRP) is restricted to a subpopulation of DRG neurons. Subsequently, we determined that treatment (24 h) of the neurons with either dibutyryl cAMP (1 mM) or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (2 microM) increased CGRP mRNA content 2.2 +/- 0.4 (n = 6, p < 0.03) and 3.0 +/- 0.6-fold (n = 6, P < 0.02) respectively, while secreted iCGRP levels were increased 1.8 +/- 0.2 (n = 14, P < 0.005) and 4.5 +/- 1.0 (n = 14, P < 0.001)-fold over control levels. Treatment of the neurons with dexamethasone alone had no effect on CGRP expression; however, this agent was able to significantly attenuate the stimulatory effects of NGF on both CGRP mRNA accumulation and release of iCGRP. Time course studies demonstrated that in the phorbol ester treated neurons CGRP mRNA levels continued to increase at 48 h, while maximal induction with dibutyryl cAMP occurred at approximately 12 h. These results indicate that local and/or circulating factors which act through the protein kinase A and C signal transduction pathways upregulate both CGRP expression and release, while glucocorticoids attenuate the stimulatory effects of NGF.

publication date

  • July 1995