Effects of bradykinin and capsaicin on endings of afferent fibers from abdominal visceral organs

J. C. Longhurst, M. P. Kaufman, G. A. Ordway, T. I. Musch

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101 Scopus citations


Stimulation of sensory endings in abdominal visceral organs with capsaicin or bradykinin reflexly increases heart rate, blood pressure, and myocardial contractility through afferent pathways in splanchnic nerves. To determine the afferent fiber types stimulated, we recorded impulses in the right splanchnic nerve in 12 anesthetized cats after either injecting capsaicin (50-200 μg) or bradykinin (6.5-20 μg) into the descending thoracic aorta or applying pledgets soaked with these chemicals to a visceral organ. We studied 26 A- and 23 C-fibers, each with one receptive field in the mesentery, stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, or porta hepatis. Endings of C-fibers generally were mechanically insensitive, whereas endings of A-fibers were mechanically sensitive. After a latency of 10.7 ± 3.3 s, capsaicin increased the activity of 10 of 26 A-fibers from 2.0 ± 0.9 to 9.9 ± 2.6 impulses/s and 23 of 23 C-fibers from 0.2 ± 0.1 to 13.0 ± 1.6 impulses/s after a latency of 3.3 ± 0.9 s. Bradykinin increased the activity of 15 of 26 A-fibers from 2.6 ± 0.9 to 7.4 ± 1.5 impulses/s after a latency of 17.0 ± 1.7 s and 16 of 22 C-fibers from 0.4 ± 0.2 to 4.7 ± 1.2 impulses/s after a latency of 19.0 ± 1.9 s. Capsaicin stimulated significantly more C- than A-fibers (P < 0.001) and a significantly greater fraction of C-fibers than did bradykinin (P < 0.007). We conclude that stimulation of splanchnic C-fiber afferents by capsaicin and both A- and C-fiber afferents by bradykinin is primarily responsible for the reflex cardiovascular responses caused by these chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R552-R559
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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