Synaptotagmin-7 facilitates acetylcholine release in splanchnic nerve-chromaffin cell synapses during nerve activity

Neurosci Lett. 2023 Mar 13:800:137129. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2023.137129. Epub 2023 Feb 14.


Disturbances that threaten homeostasis elicit activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the adrenal medulla. The effectors discharge as a unit to drive global and immediate changes in whole-body physiology. Descending sympathetic information is conveyed to the adrenal medulla via preganglionic splanchnic fibers. These fibers pass into the gland and synapse onto chromaffin cells, which synthesize, store, and secrete catecholamines and vasoactive peptides. While the importance of the sympatho-adrenal branch of the autonomic nervous system has been appreciated for many decades, the mechanisms underlying transmission between presynaptic splanchnic neurons and postsynaptic chromaffin cells have remained obscure. In contrast to chromaffin cells, which have enjoyed sustained attention as a model system for exocytosis, even the Ca2+ sensors that are expressed within splanchnic terminals have not yet been identified. This study shows that a ubiquitous Ca2+-binding protein, synaptotagmin-7 (Syt7), is expressed within the fibers that innervate the adrenal medulla, and that its absence can alter synaptic transmission in the preganglionic terminals of chromaffin cells. The prevailing impact in synapses that lack Syt7 is a decrease in synaptic strength and neuronal short-term plasticity. Evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in Syt7 KO preganglionic terminals are smaller in amplitude than in wild-type synapses stimulated in an identical manner. Splanchnic inputs also display robust short-term presynaptic facilitation, which is compromised in the absence of Syt7. These data reveal, for the first time, a role for any synaptotagmin at the splanchnic-chromaffin cell synapse. They also suggest that Syt7 has actions at synaptic terminals that are conserved across central and peripheral branches of the nervous system.

Keywords: Adrenal medulla; Preganglionic synapses; Synaptotagmin; Synaptotagmin-7.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Adrenal Medulla* / metabolism
  • Chromaffin Cells* / metabolism
  • Splanchnic Nerves / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptotagmins / metabolism


  • Acetylcholine
  • Synaptotagmins