Activin acts with nerve growth factor to regulate calcitonin gene-related peptide mRNA in sensory neurons

P. Xu, A. K. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) increases in sensory neurons after inflammation and plays an important role in abnormal pain responses, but how this neuropeptide is regulated is not well understood. Both activin A and nerve growth factor (NGF) increase in skin after inflammation and induce CGRP in neurons in vivo and in vitro. This study was designed to understand how neurons integrate these two signals to regulate the neuropeptide important for inflammatory pain. In adult dorsal root ganglion neurons, NGF but not activin alone produced a dose-dependent increase in CGRP mRNA. When added together with NGF, activin synergistically increased CGRP mRNA, indicating that sensory neurons combine these signals. Studies were then designed to learn if that combination occurred at a common receptor or shared intracellular signals. Studies with activin IB receptor or tyrosine receptor kinase A inhibitors suggested that each ligand required its cognate receptor to stimulate the neuropeptide. Further, activin did not augment NGF-initiated intracellular mitogen-activated protein kinase signals but instead stimulated Smad phosphorylation, suggesting these ligands initiated parallel signals in the cytoplasm. Activin synergy required several NGF intracellular signals to be present. Because activin did not further stimulate, but did require NGF intracellular signals, it appears that activin and NGF converge not in receptor or cytoplasmic signals, but in transcriptional mechanisms to regulate CGRP in rat sensory neurons after inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-674
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 12 2007


  • ERK
  • Smad
  • inflammation
  • neuropeptides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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