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Acetylcholine as sensory transmitter in crustacea

New evidence from experiments demonstrating release of ACh during sensory stimulation

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  • 39 Citations


  1. 1.

    A method is described for the perfusion of the thoracic ganglia of crabs (Cancer, Pugettia, Portunus, Callinectes, Eriphia) through the sternal artery.

  2. 2.

    Administration of acetylcholine (ACh)via perfusion elicits leg movements. The effect is enhanced by the anticholinesterase eserine. Eserine alone causes great enhancement of reflex activity.

  3. 3.

    Eserinized perfusate collected during periods of sensory stimulation (optical or tactile stimuli) contained ACh as detected by bioassay on isolated mollusc ventricles. Up to 2 × 10−9 g of ACh were liberated per minute. No ACh was detectable in perfusates collected from quiescent, unstimulated crabs (detection limit 1−10 × 10−11g/ml) or from stimulated crabs when the perfusion fluid contained no eserine. Eserine itself had no effect on the heart preparations used.

  4. 4.

    The demonstration of a release of ACh from the central nervous system of crabs during sensory stimulation represents the last missing link in the evidence (which is fully reviewed) that ACh is the transmitter substance of sensory neurons in decapod crustacea and, presumably, in other arthropod groups as well.


  1. 1.

    Es wird eine Methode beschrieben, die es erlaubt, die Thorakalganglien von Krabben (Cancer, Pugettia, Portunus, Callinectes, Eriphia) über die Sternal-Arterie zu perfundieren.

  2. 2.

    Applikation von Azetylcholinvia Perfusion ruft Beinbewegungen hervor. Diese Wirkung wird verstärkt durch Eserin (Cholinesterasehemmer). Eserin selbst bewirkt eine erhebliche Verstärkung der Reflexaktivität.

  3. 3.

    Eserinisiertes Perfusat, das während Perioden optischer oder mechanischer Reizung gewonnen wurde, enthielt ACh, das im Biotest an isolierten Ventrikeln von Mollusken nachgewiesen werden konnte. Bis zu 2 × 10−9 g ACh wurden pro Minute freigesetzt. In Perfusaten, die von ungereizten, ruhenden Krabben oder von gereizten Krabben erhalten wurden, wenn die Perfusionsflüssigkeit kein Eserin enthielt, konnte kein ACh nachgewiesen werden (Nachweisgrenze l −10 × 10−11 g/ml).

  4. 4.

    Der Nachweis der Freisetzung von ACh im Zentralnervensystem von Krabben während sensorischer Reizung liefert das letzte noch fehlende Glied in der Beweisführung (die in der Arbeit ausführlich dokumentiert wird), daß ACh die Transmitter-Substanz der sensorischen Neurone der dekapoden Krebse, und vermutlich auch der anderen Arthropodengruppen, darstellt.

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This study was supported by a grant from the United States Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, NB-1451, and by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through the Forschergruppe “Biologische Grenzflächen und Spezifität”.

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Florey, E. Acetylcholine as sensory transmitter in crustacea. J. Comp. Physiol. 83, 1–16 (1973). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00694568

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  • Acetylcholine
  • Tactile Stimulus
  • Sensory Stimulation
  • Reflex Activity
  • Great Enhancement