Co-localization of the vanilloid capsaicin receptor and substance P in sensory nerve fibers innervating cochlear and vertebro-basilar arteries

Z. Vass, C. F. Dai, P. S. Steyger, G. Jancsó, D. R. Trune, A. L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that capsaicin-sensitive substance P (SP)-containing trigeminal ganglion neurons innervate the spiral modiolar artery (SMA), radiating arterioles, and the stria vascularis of the cochlea. Antidromic electrical or chemical stimulation of trigeminal sensory nerves results in neurogenic plasma extravasation in inner ear tissues. The primary aim of this study was to reveal the possible morphological basis of cochlear vascular changes mediated by capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves. Therefore, the distribution of SP and capsaicin receptor (transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 - TRPV1) was investigated by double immunolabeling to demonstrate the anatomical relationships between the cochlear and vertebro-basilar blood vessels and the trigeminal sensory fiber system. Extensive TRPV1 and SP expression and co-localization were observed in axons within the adventitial layer of the basilar artery, the anterior inferior cerebellar artery, the SMA, and the radiating arterioles of the cochlea. There appears to be a functional relationship between the trigeminal ganglion and the cochlear blood vessels since electrical stimulation of the trigeminal ganglion induced significant plasma extravasation from the SMA and the radiating arterioles. The findings suggest that stimulation of paravascular afferent nerves may result in permeability changes in the basilar and cochlear vascular bed and may contribute to the mechanisms of vertebro-basilar type of headache through the release of SP and stimulation of TPVR1, respectively. We propose that vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing deficits associated with migraine may arise from perturbations of capsaicin-sensitive trigeminal sensory ganglion neurons projecting to the cochlea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-927
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


  • AICA
  • Anterior inferior cerebellar artery
  • BA
  • BP
  • BSA
  • Basilar artery
  • Blood pressure
  • Bovine serum albumin
  • C-fibers
  • CBF
  • CGRP
  • CNS
  • Calcitonin gene-related peptide
  • Capsaicin
  • Cochlear blood flow
  • Guinea-pig
  • Headache
  • Plasma extravasation
  • Trigeminus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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