Capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves participate in the regulation of cardiovascular functions both in the normal state and the pathophysiology of hypertension through the actions of potent vasodilator neuropeptides, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP, a very potent vasodilator, is the predominant neurotransmitter in capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves, and plays an important role in the initiation, progression and maintenance of hypertension via: (1) the alterations in its synthesis and release and/or in vascular sensitivity response to it; (2) interactions with pro-hypertensive systems, including renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, sympathetic nervous system and endothelin system; and (3) anti-hypertrophy and anti-proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells. The decrease in CGRP synthesis and release contributes to the elevated blood pressure, as shown in the spontaneously hypertensive rats, α-CGRP knockout mice, Dahl-salt or phenol-induced hypertensive rats. In contrast, the increase in CGRP levels or the enhancement of vascular sensitivity response to CGRP plays a beneficial compensatory depressor role in the development of hypertension, as shown in deoxycorticosterone-salt, sub-total nephrectomy-salt, Nω-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester or two-kidney, one-clip models of hypertension in rats. We found that rutaecarpine causes a sustained depressor action by stimulation of CGRP synthesis and release via activation of vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (VR1) in hypertensive rats, which reveals the therapeutic implications of VR1 agonists for treatment of hypertension.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)
- Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system
- Sensory nerve
- Sympathetic nervous system