Peptide 19 (PEP 19) is a 7.6. kDa polypeptide which can bind to calmodulin and inhibit calcium-calmodulin signaling. In this study, PEP 19-immunoreactivity (ir) was examined in the rat trigeminal sensory nuclei. Numerous PEP 19-immunoreactive (ir) neurons were detected in the medullary dorsal horn (MDH) and rostral parts of the trigeminal sensory nuclei (subnuclei interpolaris and oralis, and nucleus principalis). The mean numbers ± S.D. per section of PEP 19-ir neurons were 104.2 ± 30.4 in the MDH, 137.8 ± 39.5 in the subnucleus interpolaris, 129.2 ± 46.9 in the subnucleus oralis and 157.2 ± 34.1 in the nucleus principalis. In the MDH, small to medium-sized PEP 19-ir neurons were abundant within superficial laminae. PEP 19-ir neurons with various cell body sizes were also distributed in the rostral parts of the trigeminal sensory nuclei. A double immunofluorescence analysis also demonstrated that many PEP 19-ir neurons co-expressed parvalbumin (PV)-ir in the MDH (9.0%), subnucleus oralis (7.7%) and nucleus principalis (19.7%). In the subnucleus interpolaris, such neurons were relatively rare (1.7%). PEP 19-ir neurons were mostly devoid of calbindin D-28k. In addition, a retrograde tracing method revealed that a substantial number of PEP 19-ir neurons projected to the thalamus. PV-ir was common in thalamus-projecting PEP 19-ir neurons. These findings suggest that PEP 19-ir neurons in the MDH may have a function in modulation of nociceptive and thermo-receptive signaling. It is also likely that PEP 19-ir neurons in rostral parts of the trigeminal sensory nuclei are related to transduction of mechano-receptive information from facial regions to the thalamus.
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