Involvement of substance P in the development of cisplatin-induced acute and delayed pica in rats

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Although substance P (SP) and neurokinin NK1 receptors have been reported to be involved in cisplatin-induced acute and delayed emesis, their precise roles remain unclear. Pica, the consumption of non-nutrient materials such as kaolin in rats, can be used as a model of nausea in humans. We investigated the time-dependent changes in cisplatin-induced pica and the involvement of SP and NK1 receptors in this behaviour.


Rats were administered cisplatin with or without a daily injection of a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist (granisetron) or an NK1 receptor antagonist (aprepitant), and kaolin intake was then monitored for 5 days. The effects of granisetron on the cisplatin-induced expression of preprotachykinin-A (PPT-A) mRNA, which encodes mainly for SP, and on SP release in the medulla, measured by in vivo brain microdialysis, were also investigated.


Cisplatin induced pica within 8 h of its administration that continued for 5 days. Granisetron inhibited the acute phase (day 1), but not the delayed phase (days 2–5), of pica, whereas aprepitant abolished both phases. Within 24 h of the injection of cisplatin, PPT-A mRNA expression and SP release in the medulla were significantly increased; these findings lasted during the observation period and were inhibited by granisetron for up to 24 h.


The profiles of cisplatin-induced pica in rats are similar to clinical findings for cisplatin-induced emesis in humans, and we showed that SP production in the medulla and activation of NK1 receptors are involved in this cisplatin-induced pica.

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