Additional Complexities

The conceptual approach to the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions presented here is consistent with the presentation of this topic in most general textbooks and forms the basic foundation underlying much of autonomic pharmacology; however, this foundation omits many basic mechanisms that function in autonomic ganglia. For example, traditionally, sympathetic ganglia have been thought to function primarily as relays in which neural information coming from the spinal cord via preganglionic fibers is simply relayed to postganglionic neurons. The synaptic mechanism implementing this relay was thought to be the ACh-to-nicotinic cholinergic receptor interaction that produces fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials; however, it is now known that neural terminals in these ganglia contain numerous other substances that appear to be neuro-transmitters. Many of these substances are polypeptides that produce slow synaptic potentials that contribute to the synaptic integration of neural information within sympathetic ganglia. The cell bodies of neurons located within prevertebral sympathetic ganglia also receive input directly from sensory receptors located in most organs of the abdominal viscera. Thus, these ganglia use a variety of synaptic mechanisms to combine peripheral

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