The co-transmitter hypothesis, with special reference to the storage and release of ATP with noradrenaline and acetylcholine

  • G. Burnstock


For many years most of us have accepted the idea that one nerve fibre makes and releases only one transmitter. This has become known as ‘Dale’s principle’, although this nomenclature is not strictly correct and the history behind it is curious (see Eccles, 1976). In the Northnagel Lecture in 1934, Dale speculated in relation to the “axon reflex”, that different endings of a sensory neurone (one a central synapse, the other concerned with antidromic vasodilatation of skin vessels) probably released the same transmitter. In the mid-1950s, it was Eccles who coined the words Dale’s principle (apparently not entirely with the agreement of Dale), and defined it as “at all the axonal branches of a neurone, there is liberation of the same transmitter substance or substances”. Ironically, this definition does not exclude the possibility of “co-transmitters”.


Adenine Nucleotide Adenosine Triphosphate Adrenergic Nerve Cholinergic Nerve Ciba Foundation Symposium 
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Copyright information

© The Contributors 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Burnstock
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Embryology, and Centre for NeuroscienceUniversity CollegeLondonUK

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