The release of immunoreactive substance P into the vascular bed of the isolated small intestine of the guinea-pig was investigated. Raising the intraluminal pressure to 5 mbar for 5 min initiated peristalsis and stimulated the release of substance P. The substance P releasing effect of pressure stimulation was reduced by 46% when hexamethonium (240 μM) was added to the perfusion solution. The ganglion stimulant drug dimethylphenylpiperazinium (32 μM) also stimulated the release of substance P; its effect was completely prevented by hexamethonium (240 μM). Intraarterial infusion of capsaicin (22 μM), a neurotoxin known to act on sensory substance P-containing neurones, stimulated the release of substance P and caused intestinal contractions. The motor effect of capsaicin in the gut can thus be explained by release of substance P from sensory nerve endings in the gut. Systemic pretreatment of the guinea-pigs with capsaicin abolished the release of substance P due to capsaicin, whereas that evoked by elevated intraluminal pressure or dimethylphenylpiperazinium was not reduced. This means that substance P released in the course of peristalsis or by dimethylphenylpiperazinium originates from neurones intrinsic to the intestine. These findings indicate that intestinal peristalsis is associated with the release of substance P from enteric neurones. Substance P is likely to be a neurotransmitter involved in the coordination of the peristaltic reflex.
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