The central nucleus of amygdala (CeA) plays an important role in pain regulation. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-like immunoreactive fibers and CGRP receptors are distributed densely in CeA. The present study was performed to elucidate the role of CGRP in nociceptive regulation in the CeA of rats. Intra-CeA injection of CGRP induced dose-dependent increases in the hind-paw withdrawal latency tested by hotplate test and Randall Selitto Test, indicating an antinociceptive effect of CGRP in CeA. Furthermore, the antinociceptive effect of CGRP was blocked by intra-CeA administration of the CGRP receptor antagonist CGRP8-37, suggesting that CGRP receptor1 is involved in the CGRP-induced antinociception. The CGRP-induced antinociception was attenuated by s.c. injection of the opioid antagonist naloxone, suggesting an involvement of endogenous opioid systems in CGRP-induced antinociception. Moreover, it was demonstrated that opioid receptors in the periaqueductal gray, but not in CeA, contributed to the CGRP-induced antinociception, indicating the importance of the pathway between CeA and the periaqueductal gray in CGRP-induced antinociception. Combining retrograde fluorescent tracing with immunohistochemistry, we found that met-enkephalinergic neurons were innervated by CGRP-containing terminals in CeA. Furthermore, most neurons in the CeA retrogradely traced from the periaqueductal gray were contacted by CGRP-containing terminals and some of them were surrounded by characteristic basket-like structures formed by the terminals, suggesting that CGRP innervates the neurons which project from CeA to the periaqueductal gray. The results indicate that CGRP activates the met-enkephalinergic neurons, which project from CeA to the periaqueductal gray, producing antinociceptive effect in rats.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide
- Central nucleus of amygdala
- Opioid receptors
- Periaqueductal gray
ASJC Scopus subject areas