1. In addition to calcitonin and katacalcin, it is now known that the human calcitonin gene encodes a novel peptide called calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP). In experimental animals, CGRP produces vasodilatation and complex changes in plasma calcium.
2. We have now assessed its biological activity in man by infusing human CGRP (hCGRP) into six normal volunteers. hCGRP (545 pmol/min) caused the diastolic pressure to fall from 64 ± 5 to 55 ± 7mmHg (P < 0.05), the heart rate to increase from 61 ± 7 to 87 ± 5 beats/min (P < 0.05) and the skin temperature to increase from 33.7 ± 0.9 to 34.9 ± 0.5°C. Plasma noradrenaline increased from 481 ± 126 to 835 ± 65 pg/ml (P < 0.05) and plasma adrenaline from 57 ± 17 to 82 ± 12 pg/ml (P < 0.05). There were no significant changes in the albumin-corrected plasma calcium.
3. hCGRP is thus a potent endogenous vasodilator in man and is in fact more potent than any other known vasodilator. Together with the observations that CGRP circulates in normal subjects at relatively high concentration (approximately 25 pmol/l) and that CGRP is present in perivascular nerves, this study suggests a possible role for CGRP in controlling peripheral vascular tone in man.