The effect of RPR 100893, a selective and specific neurokinin-1 antagonist, or its enantiomer RPR 103253 was examined on c-fos antigen expression in brain stem and upper cervical cord 2 h after intracisternal capsaicin injection (30.5 μg/ml) in pentobarbital-anesthetized Hartley guinea-pigs. Positive cells were counted at three levels corresponding to obex, -2.25 mm and -6.75 mm in 18 sections (50 μm). Immunoreactivity was strongly expressed within laminae I and IIo of trigeminal nucleus caudalis, area postrema and the leptomeninges. Moderate labeling was present in the nucleus of the solitary tract and the medullary lateral reticular nucleus, whereas few positive cells were found in the ventral portion of the medullary reticular nucleus and Rexed laminae III-V and X. The distribution of labeled cells was consistent with previously reported results following subarachnoid placement of the noxious agents, blood or carrageenin. Pretreatment with RPR 100893 (1, 10 and 100 μg/kg, i.v.) but not its enantiomer (100 μg/kg, i.v.) 30 min prior to capsaicin injection significantly reduced the number of positive cells in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis (P < 0.01) in a dose-dependent manner, but not within area postrema or nucleus of the solitary tract. These results indicate that (i) the instillation of capsaicin into the subarachnoid space is an effective stimulus for the induction of c-fos antigen within trigeminal nucleus caudalis, presumably through activation of trigeminovascular afferents, and (ii) the neurokinin-1 antagonist RPR 100893 reduces the number of positive cells selectively within this nucleus. The findings are significant because drugs which alleviate vascular headaches decrease the number of c-fos-positive cells within trigeminal nucleus caudalis following noxious meningeal stimulation. Hence, strategies aimed at blocking the neurokinin-1 receptor may be useful for treating migraine and cluster headache.
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