Study design: Experimental animal study. Objectives: Although a population of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) neurons in the lumbar spinal cord has an important role in erection and ejaculation in rats, little information exists on this GRP system in primates. To identify the male-specific GRP system in the primate spinal cord, we studied the lumbosacral cord in macaque monkeys as a non-human primate model. Setting: University laboratory in Japan. Methods: To determine the gene sequence of GRP precursors, the rhesus macaque monkey genomic sequence data were searched, followed by phylogenetic analysis. Subsequently, immunocytochemical analysis for GRP was performed in the monkey spinal cord. Results: We have used bioinformatics to identify the ortholog gene for GRP precursor in macaque monkeys. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that primate prepro-GRP is separated from that of other mammalian species and clustered to an independent branch as primates. Immunocytochemistry for GRP further demonstrated that male-dominant sexual dimorphism was found in the spinal GRP system in monkeys as in rodents. Conclusion: We have demonstrated in macaque monkeys that the GRP system in the lower spinal cord shows male-specific dimorphism and May have an important role in penile functions not only in rodents but also in primates.
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