Galaninergic mechanisms at the spinal level: focus on histochemical phenotyping

Neuropeptides. 2005 Jun;39(3):223-31. doi: 10.1016/j.npep.2005.02.004.


The 29/30 amino acid neuropeptide galanin is present in a small population of DRG neurons under normal condition but is strongly upregulated after nerve injury. There is evidence that this upregulated galanin has trophic actions, for example promoting neurite outgrowth as well as influencing pain processing. In fact, both pro- and antinociceptive effects have been reported, probably relating to activation of different receptors. It has been proposed that presynaptic GalR2 receptors are pro-nociceptive by enhancing release of excitatory transmitters in the dorsal horn, and anti-nociceptive via an action on GalR1-positive interneurons. These neurons have recently been shown to be glutamatergic. Several other peptides and molecules are also regulated by nerve injury. Here we focus on neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY), which is upregulated in parallel with galanin. We review data reporting on coexistence between galanin and NPY and between these two peptides and the two NPY receptors Y1 and Y2. The data show considerable overlap, and it will be an important task to analyse how cross-talk between these neuropeptides can influence pain processing. It is proposed that such cross-talk can occur by release of peptides from DRGs neuron somata within dorsal root ganglia. To what extent these mechanisms shown to exist in rodents also occur in human is important, if one wants to discuss novel strategies for pain treatment on the basis of these findings. So far information is limited, but it has been demonstrated that galanin is expressed in DRGs and possibly also regulated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Galanin / physiology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Galanin / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*


  • Receptors, Galanin
  • Galanin