Putative transmitter systems of mammalian sympathetic preganglionic neurons
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The sympathetic nervous system evokes complex effects at multiple target organs in response to external, internal as well as mental stimuli. This output involves an interplay between the actions of a number of transmitters and modulators and a the postsynaptic and presynaptic sites of the autonomic ganglia and the sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPNs). This review concerns particularly the SPNs of the cat and neonatal rat, studied by means of electrophysiological and immunohistochemical methods. Four types of responses may be elicited, the fast EPSP and IPSP, and their currents and the slow ESPSPs and IPSPs, and their currents. Glutamate and glycine appear to mediate the fast excitatory and inhibitory responses, respectively; peptides and amines seem to be responsible for generating the slow excitatory response, while the slow inhibitory response, found so far only in the cat, appears to be mediated by norepinephrine. Finally, glutamate, enkephalin and GABA, but not glycine attenuate the release of the inhibitory and excitatory transmitters from the nerve terminals abutting on the SPNs. The supraspinal efferent and afferent projections which may release the transmitters and modulators in question are discussed, as well the mechanisms that ensure appropriate programming and moment-to-moment regulation of the autonomic output.
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