Capsaicin-sensitive afferent sensory nerves in modulating gastric mucosal defense against noxious agents

Omar M.E. Abdel-Salam, Andras Debreceni, Gyula Mózsik, Janos Szolcsányi

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48 Citations (Scopus)


In the rat stomach, evidence has been provided that capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves (CSSN) are involved in a local defense mechanism against gastric ulcer. In the present study capsaicin or resiniferatoxin (RTX), a more potent capsaicin analogue, was used to elucidate the role of these sensory nerves in gastric mucosal protection, mucosal permeability, gastric acid secretion and gastrointestinal blood flow in the rat. In the rat stomach and jejunum, intravenous RTX or topical capsaicin or RTX effected a pronounced and long-lasting enhancement of the microcirculation at these sites, measured by laser Doppler flowmetry technique. Introduction of capsaicin into the rat stomach in very low concentrations of ng-μg · mL-1 range protected the gastric mucosa against damage produced by topical acidified aspirin, indomethacin, ethanol or 0.6 N HCl. Resiniferatoxin exhibited acute gastroprotective effect similar to that of capsaicin and exerted marked protective action on the exogenous HCl, or the secretagogue- induced enhancement of the indomethacin injury. The ulcer preventive effect of both agents was not prevented by atropine or cimetidine treatment. Capsaicin given into the stomach in higher desensitizing concentrations of 6.5 mM markedly enhanced the susceptibility of the gastric mucosa and invariably aggravated gastric mucosal damage evoked by later noxious challenge. Such high desensitizing concentrations of capsaicin, however, did not reduce the cytoprotective effect of prostacyclin (PGI2) or β-carotene. Capsaicin or RTX had an additive protective effect to that of atropine or cimetidine. In rats pretreated with cysteamine to deplete tissue somatostatin, capsaicin protected against the indomethacin-induced mucosal injury. Gastric acid secretion of the pylorus-ligated rats was inhibited with capsaicin or RTX given in low non-desensitizing concentrations, with the inhibition being most marked in the first hour following pylorus-ligation. Low intragastric concentrations of RTX reduced gastric hydrogen ion back- diffusion evoked by topical acidified salicylates. It is concluded that the gastropotective effect of capsaicin-type agents involves primarily an enhancement of the microcirculation effected through local release of mediator peptides from the sensory nerve terminals. A reduction in gastric acidity may contribute to some degree in the gastric protective action of capsaicin-type agents. The vasodilator and gastroprotective effects of capsaicin-type agents do not depend on vagal efferents or sympathetic neurons, involve prostanoids, histaminergic or cholinergic pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-454
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physiology Paris
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - nov. 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

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