Peptidergic-noradrenergic interactions were examined in explants of rat sympathetic superior cervical ganglia and in cultures of dissociated cells. The putative peptide transmitters substance P and somatostatin each increased the activity of the catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase after 1 week of exposure in culture. Maximal increases occurred at 10-7 molar for each peptide, and either increasing or decreasing the concentration reduced the effects. Similar increases in tyrosine hydroxylase were produced by a metabolically stable agonist of substance P, while a substance P antagonist prevented the effects of the agonist. The data suggest that the increased tyrosine hydroxylase activity was mediated by peptide interaction with specific substance P receptors and that peptides may modulate sympathetic catecholaminergic function.
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