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Gaba In The Control Of Sympathetic Preganglionic Neurons

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1. Amino acid neurotransmitters are critical for controlling the activity of most central neurons, including sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPN), the spinal cord neurons involved in controlling blood pressure and other autonomic functions.

2. In studies reviewed here, SPN were identified either by retrograde tracing from a peripheral target (superior cervical ganglion or adrenal medulla) or by detection of immunoreactivity for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), the acetylcholine-synthesizing enzyme that is a marker for all SPN, in intact or completely transected rat spinal cord.

3. Postembedding immunogold labelling on ultrathin sections was then used to detect GABA and sometimes glutamate in nerve terminals on SPN or near them in the neuropil of the lateral horn.

4. In some cases, the terminals were prelabelled to show an anterograde tracer or immunoreactivity for ChAT or neuropeptide Y.

5. This anatomical work has provided information that is helpful in understanding how SPN are influenced by their GABAergic innervation.

6. Immunogold studies showed that the proportion of input provided by GABAergic terminals varies between different groups of SPN. For some groups, this input may be preferentially targeted to cell bodies.

7. Anterograde tracing demonstrated that supraspinal as well as intraspinal GABAergic neurons innervate SPN and investigations on completely transected cord suggested that supraspinal neurons may provide a surprisingly large proportion of the GABAergic terminals that contact SPN.

8. The double-labelling studies in which other amino acids, ChAT or neuropeptide Y were localized along with GABA indicate that GABAergic terminals contain other neurochemicals that could modulate the actions of GABA, depending on the complement of receptors that are present pre- and post-synaptically.

9. Taken together, these data indicate that GABAergic transmission to SPN may be much more complicated than suggested by the currently available electrophysiological studies.
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Keywords: amino acids; immunocytochemistry; spinal cord; ultrastructure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiovascular Neuroscience Group, Cardiovascular Medicine and Centre for Neuroscience, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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