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When using radioimmunoassay to measure the levels of peptides from small pieces of nerve tissue it is crucial to maximize the amount of peptides extracted. Here we report on the value of including protease inhibitors in the extraction buffer when extracting substance P (SP) from short lengths of rat saphenous nerve tissue. Nerve segments were removed from terminally anesthetized 13-week-old rats and directly added to acid buffer (including EDTA) either with or without 1 mM 4-(2-amino-ethyl)-benzesulfonyl fluoride-HCl, 2 micrograms/ml aprotinin, 100 microM leupeptin, 1 microgram/ml cystatin, and 1 mM benzamidine. These "direct" samples were then boiled for 10 min. With additional groups of pieces of saphenous nerve tissue the effects of leaving the samples for 10 min in both buffers at room temperature either intact ("delayed") or after mincing the tissue ("minced") were investigated. Addition of protease inhibitors increased the amount of SP extracted in both direct and delayed procedures, although the increase was only significant for the delayed situation (P < or = 0.05). "Delay" in the absence of protease inhibitors resulted in a significantly decreased amount of SP being extracted compared to the direct and minced situations (P < or = 0.05). We recommend use of protease inhibitors be included as part of the standard procedure for extracting neuropeptides from small specimens of nerve tissue for radioimmunoassay.

Original publication




Journal article


Anal Biochem

Publication Date





156 - 159


Animals, Male, Peripheral Nerves, Protease Inhibitors, Radioimmunoassay, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Substance P