Capsaicin as a Tool for Studying Sensory Neuron Functions

  • Peter Holzer
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 298)


It was only by the middle of this century that the extent of the sensory innervation of visceral organs including the gastrointestinal tract was revealed. Quantitative analysis showed that as much as 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve are of afferent nature and that also in the splanchnic and pelvic nerves the afferent-to-efferent fiber ratio is 3: 1 and 1: 1, respectively (see Leek, 1977). These sensory neurons are primary afferent neurons, the vagal afferents having their cell bodies in the nodose ganglion and the splanchnic and pelvic afferents arising from the dorsal root (spinal) ganglia. The sensory nervous system is thought of as a receptive and afferent system that re-flexly activates efferent pathways and thereby enables the organism to react to changes in the external and internal environment and to maintain homeostasis. In addition, there is evidence that a population of peptide-containing afferent neurons can act as an effector system by itself (see Szolcsányi, 1984b; Holzer, 1988; Maggi and Meli 1988).


Dorsal Root Ganglion Sensory Neuron Primary Afferent Neuron Neurogenic Inflammation Dorsal Root Ganglion Cell 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Holzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental and Clinical PharmacologyUniversity of GrazGrazAustria

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