Interaction of Noradrenergic and Cholinergic Systems in Regulation of Ocular Dominance Plasticity

Neurosci Res. 1989 Aug;6(6):519-36. doi: 10.1016/0168-0102(89)90042-4.


We studied interactions among the noradrenergic (NA) and the muscarinic cholinergic (ACh) systems in the regulation of ocular dominance plasticity in kitten visual cortex. The cortex was bilaterally infused with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) for a week. Upon termination of the 6-OHDA infusion, one hemisphere was infused with a muscarinic ACh agonist, bethanechol, through the same, chronically implanted cannula for the second week together with monocular lid suture. The other hemisphere received an infusion of the vehicle solution alone. (1) Only in the hemisphere infused with bethanechol at relatively high concentrations did we obtain a clear shift in ocular dominance. We also found that the effect of bethanechol was concentration-dependent. (2) By comparing necessary concentrations of bethanechol and NA for the respective maximal effects, we noted that the former was at least 100-fold less effective than the latter in restoring the plasticity. (3) The cortical infusion of bethanechol did not restore the plasticity to the propranolol-pretreated cortex; the ocular dominance distribution remained virtually unchanged. This result was interpreted as suggesting that functioning beta-adrenoreceptors are needed for the cortical effect of activating the muscarinic ACh receptors to become detectable. (4) The expected shift in ocular dominance following monocular deprivation was partially suppressed, when highly concentrated scopolamine, a muscarinic ACh antagonist, was used, indicating that the involvement of the ACh system in this matter was indirect. The concentration of scopolamine needed for the half-maximum effect was 172-fold higher than that of propranolol. We thus conclude that the involvement of the muscarinic ACh system in ocular dominance plasticity is secondary to that of the NA-beta-adrenoreceptor system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Bethanechol
  • Bethanechol Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Cats
  • Cholinergic Fibers / drug effects
  • Cholinergic Fibers / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / drug effects
  • Hydroxydopamines
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Oxidopamine
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Propranolol / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / physiology
  • Scopolamine / pharmacology
  • Visual Cortex / drug effects
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*


  • Bethanechol Compounds
  • Hydroxydopamines
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Bethanechol
  • Oxidopamine
  • Propranolol
  • Scopolamine
  • Norepinephrine