Effects of capsaicin on visceral smooth muscle: A valuable tool for sensory neurotransmitter identification

Lorand Barthó, Rita Benkó, Riccardo Patacchini, Gabor Pethö, Ulrike Holzer-Petsche, Peter Holzer, Zsofia Lázár, Sarolta Undi, Laszlo Illényi, Andras Antal, Örs Peter Horváth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

55 Citations (Scopus)


Studying the visceral effects of the sensory stimulant capsaicin is a useful and relatively simple tool of neurotransmitter identification and has been used for this purpose for approximately 25 years in the authors' and other laboratories. We believe that conclusions drawn from experiments on visceral preparations may have an impact on studies dealing with the central endings of primary afferent neurons, i.e. research on nociception at the spinal level. The present review concentrates on the effects of capsaicin - through the transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor type 1 (TRPV1) receptor - on innervated gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary smooth muscle preparations. Tachykinins and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) are the most widely accepted transmitters to mediate "local efferent" effects of capsaicin-sensitive nerves in tissues taken from animals. Studies more and more frequently indicate a supra-additive interaction of various types of tachykinin receptors (tachykinin NK 1, NK 2, NK 3 receptors) in the excitatory effects of capsaicin. There is also evidence for a mediating role of ATP, acting on P 2 purinoceptors. Non-specific inhibitory actions of capsaicin-like drugs have to be taken into consideration while designing experiments with these drugs. Results obtained on human tissues may be sharply different from those of animal preparations. Capsaicin potently inhibits tone and movements of human intestinal preparations, an effect mediated by nitric oxide (NO) and/or vasoactive intestinal polypeptide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1-3 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2004



  • Bronchial smooth muscle
  • Capsaicin
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Genitourinary tract
  • Sensory neurotransmitter
  • Visceral smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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