Acute effects of substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide in human skin--a microdialysis study

J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Dec;115(6):1015-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2000.00142.x.


Upon activation nociceptors release neuropeptides in the skin provoking vasodilation and plasma protein extravasation in rodents, but only vasodilation in humans. Pivotal peptides in the induction of neurogenic inflammation comprise calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P, the latter being suggested to act partly via degranulation of mast cells. In this study substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide-induced vasodilation, protein extravasation, histamine release, and sensory effects were investigated simultaneously in human skin by dermal microdialysis. The vasodilatory prostaglandin E(2) and the mast cell activator codeine served as positive controls. Substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide applied intradermally via large cut-off plasmapheresis capillaries induced dose-dependent local vasodilation, but only SP provoked protein extravasation in concentrations greater than 10(-9) M. Substance P-induced (10(-8)-10(-6) M) protein extravasation was not accompanied by histamine release and was unaffected by cetirizine (histamine H1 blocker, 200 microg per ml). Only the highest concentration of substance P (10(-5) M) induced significant histamine release. Neither neuropeptide caused any axon reflex erythema or any itch or pain sensation, whereas mast cell degranulation by codeine dose dependently provoked itch, flare, protein extravasation, and histamine release. In human skin calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P induce vasodilation by a mechanism not involving histamine. No evidence for neuropeptide-induced activation of nociceptors was obtained. Our results suggest that endogenous calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P have no acute sensory function in human skin. The lack of neurogenic protein extravasation in humans can most probably be attributed to low local concentrations of this neuropeptide still sufficient to exert trophic and immunomodulatory effects (10(-11) M), but too low to induce protein extravasation (10(-8) M) or even mast cell degranulation (10(-5) M). J Invest Dermatol 115:1015-1020 2000

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / pharmacology*
  • Codeine / pharmacology
  • Dinoprostone / pharmacology
  • Erythema / chemically induced
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials / drug therapy
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Histamine Release / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology
  • Sensation / drug effects
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Substance P / pharmacology*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology
  • Vasodilation / drug effects


  • Neuropeptides
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Substance P
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • Dinoprostone
  • Codeine