Capsaicin-sensitive adrenal sensory fibers participate in compensatory adrenal growth in rats

Yvonne M. Ulrich-Lai, Daniel J. Marek, William C. Engeland

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10 Scopus citations


Compensatory adrenal growth, in which one gland undergoes hyperplasia after removal of the other, is mediated by a neural reflex. In the present studies, a method employing capsaicin to selectively remove adrenal sensory fibers was developed and applied to determine whether adrenal capsaicin-sensitive fibers participate in compensatory adrenal growth. The splanchnic nerves of anesthetized male rats were treated with capsaicin or vehicle. Capsaicin treatment selectively removed adrenal calcitonin gene-related peptide-positive fibers. One week after drug treatment, rats underwent left adrenalectomy or sham surgery and recovered for 5 days. Capsaicin treatment bilaterally or to the left splanchnic nerve alone (i.e., the afferent nerve in the reflex) impaired compensatory adrenal growth at 5 days compared with vehicle controls, whereas capsaicin treatment to the right splanchnic nerve alone did not affect growth. Moreover, left adrenalectomy induced c-Fos immunolabeling in ipsilateral dorsal spinal cord that was prevented by capsaicin treatment. These data suggest that adrenal capsaicin-sensitive afferent nerves participate in compensatory adrenal growth and that this effect is primarily on the afferent limb of the reflex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R877-R884
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4 52-4
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Calcitonin gene-related peptide
  • Splanchnic nerve
  • c-Fos


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