Transport of noradrenaline in sympathetic nerves and the effect of nerve impulses on its contribution to transmitter stores

L. B. Geffen, R. A. Rush

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Abstract— —A study has been made of the contribution of noradrenaline transport along sympathetic nerves to their terminal stores of transmitter by ligating the splenic nerves of the cat, and measuring both the noradrenaline that accumulates above the constriction, and the noradrenaline content of the spleen. The biochemical estimations were supplemented by fluorescence histochemistry. The effect of abolishing efferent impulses in the splenic nerves was examined by cutting their preganglionic nerve supply. The proximo‐distal flow rate for noradrenaline was calculated as 1.4‐3.3 mm/hr assuming that all the noradrenaline that accumulates is derived from the cell bodies in the ganglion without net addition or loss in the axons. The process was not dependent on impulse traffic in the nerves, since decentralization did not significantly effect the accumulation. The amount of noradrenaline arrested by the constriction in 24 hr was only 1 per cent of the stores in the terminals of those nerves, and consequently no change was detected in the spleen's noradrenaline content as a result of constricting its nerve supply. In the presence of an intact reflex pathway to the spleen, the stress of the operative procedure produced a marked constriction of the spleen, and depletion of its noradrenaline content. These changes could be prevented either by section of the preganglionic splanchnic nerves, or by ligation of the splenic nerves, thereby blocking the conduction of efferent nerve impulses. The evidence favours a proximo‐distal flow of noradrenaline in sympathetic nerves, independent of nerve impulses, which makes, however, a negligible quantitative contribution to the terminal stores of transmitter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-930
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1968
Externally publishedYes


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