Development of sympathetic ganglionic neurotransmission in the neonatal rat. Pre- and postganglionic nerve response to asphyxia and 2-deoxyglucose

Neuroscience. 1982 Feb;7(2):501-7. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(82)90283-4.


To determine the time course of development of neurotransmission in the sympathetic ganglion of the rat, pre- and postganglionic activity was recorded from the cervical sympathetic trunk in anesthetized neonatal and mature preparations. Tonic activity and responses to two stimuli, cellular hypoglycemia induced by 2-deoxyglucose and asphyxia, which are known to evoke CNS-mediated sympathetic activation in mature rats were measured. In 2-11-day-old neonates, tonic preganglionic activity recorded from the cervical sympathetic nerve and responses to hypoglycemia and asphyxia were comparable to or greater than that in mature rats. In 17-19-day-old neonates these variables were elevated to twice the adult value. In contrast, tonic postganglionic activity recorded from the internal carotid nerve was barely detectable through 5 days of age and there was no response to hypoglycemia. During asphyxia, maximum postganglionic impulse frequency and total number of impulses discharged were 10-20% of the mature value through the 5th postnatal day and the duration of the postganglionic response was only 25% of the preganglionic response. Tonic postganglionic activity and response to stimuli were equivalent to those in mature rats by the 10th postnatal day. The compound action potential evoked in the postganglionic axons by direct electrical stimulation was comparable in 4-5 and 10-13 day-old rats. In the concluded that functional ganglionic neurotransmission is established in the neonatal rat between the 5th and 10th postnatal day. The relation between biochemical changes associated with maturation of the postganglionic neuron, ganglionic synaptogenisis and neurotransmission is discussed. It is concluded that synaptogenisis and onset of neurotransmission are causally associated with development of CNS regulation of postganglionic activity and end organ response rather than with maturation of the postganglionic neuron and that cholinergic excitation of the postganglionic neuron adequate to evoke action potentials is not essential to initiate maturation of the neuron.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology
  • Asphyxia / physiopathology*
  • Autonomic Fibers, Postganglionic / physiology
  • Autonomic Fibers, Preganglionic / physiology
  • Deoxy Sugars / pharmacology*
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacology*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Deoxy Sugars
  • Deoxyglucose