Peptidergic and muscarinic excitation at amphibian sympathetic synapses

J Physiol. 1983 Aug;341:257-78. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1983.sp014805.


A single-electrode voltage clamp was used to study the slow muscarinic and late slow peptidergic excitatory post-synaptic currents (e.p.s.c.s) in B cells of the paravertebral sympathetic ganglia of the bull-frog. Conductance decreases were measured during peptidergic e.p.s.c.s in nearly all cells at clamped potentials near the resting level. In about half of the cells the size of the peptidergic e.p.s.c.s increased with hyperpolarization and in some of these cells conductance increases were found at hyperpolarized levels. In the remaining cells conductance decreases occurred at all levels of membrane potential tested, and in a few of these the polarity of the e.p.s.c.s reversed at hyperpolarized potentials. A similar diversity was observed among muscarinic e.p.s.c.s. At least two simple ionic mechanisms are required to explain the heterogeneous voltage dependencies observed: a conductance decrease primarily to K+ that dominates at depolarized potentials and a conductance increase to other ions that is more prominent at hyperpolarized potentials. The proportion of these two mechanisms appears to differ among B cells. The two slow e.p.s.c.s recorded in the same neurone had the same voltage dependence and were accompanied by the same conductance changes in each of eight cells despite differences between cells. The muscarinic e.p.s.c. was reduced during the peptidergic e.p.s.c. in each of twenty-five neurones tested over a range of membrane potentials. Externally-applied luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) produced currents with the same voltage dependence and conductance changes as the nerve-evoked peptidergic e.p.s.c. in each of fifteen cells tested. Bethanechol, a muscarinic agonist, and LHRH produced currents with the same voltage dependence and conductance changes in each of the twelve cells studied. In several cells a saturating response to a prolonged application of LHRH completely occluded the response to bethanechol, and vice versa. Slow currents were recorded from dissociated cell bodies in response to bethanechol and LHRH; these responses exhibited the same diversity of voltage dependence and conductance changes as was observed in intact ganglia. Activation of muscarinic and peptidergic receptors may control shared ionic mechanisms in single ganglion cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bethanechol
  • Bethanechol Compounds / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic / physiology*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / physiology
  • Spinal Nerves / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Bethanechol Compounds
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Bethanechol
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone