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Review
, 46 (1-2), 174-85

Substance P and Substance P Receptor Histochemistry in Human Neurodegenerative Diseases

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Review

Substance P and Substance P Receptor Histochemistry in Human Neurodegenerative Diseases

N W Kowall et al. Regul Pept.

Abstract

Substance P immunoreactivity is localized in discrete subsets of neurons in the human cerebral cortex and basal ganglia. In the normal human cerebral cortex, a subset of aspiny local circuit neurons in deep cortical layers and the cortical subplate contain preprotachykinin mRNA and substance P immunoreactive. These neurons, which contain NADPH diaphorase (NO synthase) activity, are strikingly depleted in Alzheimer's disease--in contrast to other local circuit neurons--suggesting that they may be an early target of the degenerative process. In the human basal ganglia, substance P immunoreactivity and mRNA are localized in a subset of spiny striatal neurons that project to the internal segment of the globus pallidus. These neurons are enriched in D1 dopamine receptors and dynorphin, and are calbindin and DARP 32 immunoreactive. A separate subset of aspiny striatal local circuit neurons also contain substance P immunoreactivity. Fiber and terminal staining is prominent in the matrix compartment of the ventromedial striatum and persists dorsally as a rim outlining patches that contain lesser amounts of immunoreactivity. Intense fiber and terminal staining is found in the pars reticulata of the substantia nigra. In Huntington's disease, substance P is depleted in the striatum in parallel with the dorsoventral gradient of neuronal loss. Terminal staining is progressively depleted in the pallidum and substantia nigra in tandem with striatal atrophy. Substance P receptor immunoreactivity, defined with two polyclonal antisera raised against synthetic peptides derived from the substance P receptor sequence, intensely labels a subset of large neurons in the nucleus basalis and striatum identical to neurons labeled with choline acetyltransferase and nerve growth factor receptor antibodies (although striatal cholinergic neurons do not contain nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity in the human). These cholinergic neurons resist degeneration in Huntington's disease but are sensitive to degeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Less intensely labeled neurons include pyramidal neurons in the hippocampal CA2 field, nonpyramidal neurons in CA1-4, pyramidal and nonpyramidal neurons in deep neocortical layers and in the cortical subplate. Substance P receptor immunoreactivity is not well defined in the human globus pallidus or substantia nigra.

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