Distribution of vasoactive intestinal peptide, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide, nitric oxide synthase, and their receptors in human and rat sphenopalatine ganglion.
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Cranial parasympathetic outflow is mediated through the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG). The present study was performed to examine the expression of the parasympathetic signaling transmitters and their receptors in human and rat SPG. Indirect immunofluorescence technique was used for the demonstration of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP), nitric oxide synthase (NOS), glutamine synthetase (GS), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), VIP and PACAP common receptors (VPAC1, VPAC2), and PACAP receptor (PAC1). In addition, double labeling was carried out to reveal the co-localization of neurotransmitters. VIP-immunoreactive (-ir) neurons as well as fibers were frequently found in human SPG. Many, homogenously stained NOS-ir cells were found, but no positive fibers. In addition, PACAP-ir was observed in some of the neurons and in fibers. Co-localization was found between VIP and NOS. In rat VIP-, NOS-, and PACAP-ir were found in many neurons and fibers. Co-localization of PACAP and NOS was observed in neurons. PACAP and GS double staining revealed that the PACAP-ir was localized in/close to the cell membrane, but not in the satellite glial cells. PAC1 and VPAC1 immunoreactivity was found in the satellite glial cells of both human and rat. Western blot revealed protein expression of PAC1, VPAC1, and VPAC2 in rat SPG. The trigeminal-autonomic reflex may be active in migraine attacks. We hypothesized that VIP, PACAP, NOS, PAC1, VPAC1, and VPAC2 play a role in the activation of parasympathetic cranial outflow during migraine attacks.