Peripheral amplification of sweating – a role for calcitonin gene-related peptide

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Neuropeptides are the mediators of neurogenic inflammation. Some pain disorders, e.g. complex regional pain syndromes, are characterized by increased neurogenic inflammation and by exaggerated sudomotor function. The aim of this study was to explore whether neuropeptides have a peripheral effect on human sweating. We investigated the effects of different concentrations of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and substance P (SP) on acetylcholine-induced axon reflex sweating in healthy subjects (total n = 18). All substances were applied via dermal microdialysis. The experiments were done in a parallel setting: ACh alone and ACh combined with CGRP, VIP or SP in various concentrations were applied. Acetylcholine (10−2M) always elicited a sweating response, neuropeptides alone did not. However, CGRP significantly enhanced ACh-induced sweating (P < 0.01). Post hoc tests revealed that CGRP in physiological concentrations of 10−7–10−9M was most effective. VIP at any concentration had no significant effect on axon reflex sweating. The duration of the sweating response (P < 0.01), but not the amount of sweat, was reduced by SP. ACh-induced skin blood flow was significantly increased by CGRP (P < 0.01), but unaltered by VIP and SP. The results indicate that CGRP amplifies axon reflex sweating in human skin.

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