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Specific innervation of aromatase neurons by substance P fibers in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in quail


Evrard,  HC
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Dept. Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent System, Max Planck Society;

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Evrard, H., Willems E, Harada, N., & Balthazart, J. (2003). Specific innervation of aromatase neurons by substance P fibers in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in quail. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 465(2), 309-318. doi:10.1002/cne.10854.

The enzyme aromatase catalyzes the production of estrogens in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord where most of the nociceptive primary afferent fibers terminate. Numerous estrogen receptors are present in this area and the control of spinal aromatase activity is thought to play an important role in the estrogenic control of nociception. The coexistence of aromatase and nociceptive terminals suggests a role for aromatase cells in pain-related processes, but whether terminals releasing nociceptive neuropeptides (e.g., substance P) actually contact aromatase neurons is unknown and the factors that control spinal aromatase activity have not yet been identified. In the present study we analyzed by double-label immunocytochemistry the distribution in the Japanese quail spinal cord, of aromatase and of substance P or its receptor (neurokinin 1 receptor). All antigens were mainly localized in laminae I and II as observed in mammals. Most aromatase neurons were colocalized with neurokinin 1 receptors and were in close apposition with substance P-immunoreactive fibers. These results suggest that aromatase neurons are responsive to noxious stimulation and may participate in the control of nociception. Furthermore, spinal aromatase activity could be controlled by substance P through a regulation of the aromatase gene transcription as reported for the mouse diencephalon and/or through neurokinin 1 receptor-dependent phosphorylation of the aromatase protein.