Parasympathetic Control of the Heart: Subcellular Mechanisms

  • P. V. Sulakhe
  • J. E. Mackay
  • D. G. Rokosh
  • T. Morris
  • T. D. Phan
Part of the Developments in Cardiovascular Medicine book series (DICM, volume 66)


The well-established control of the heart by autonomic nerves involves the action of two neurotransmitters, acetylcholine and norepinephrine, with the specific receptors located postsynaptically in the heart. Depending on whether the region harbors pacemaker, conducting or contractile tissue, the well-known reciprocal effects on excitability, automaticity, conductivity and contractility of para-sympathetic and sympathetic nerves are expressed within the appropriate regions of the heart (1,2). How neurotransmitter action at the cell surface locale, irrespective of the heart region, influences selectively the main functions of these specialized heart regions remains an enigma. It is becoming apparent that the influence of receptor activation on coupled effector systems vicinally located within the surface membrane matrix sets in motion subcellular and metabolic processes within the cellular interior that subserve appropriate responses of the heart regions to autonomic transmitters (1–3). From the stand-point of innervation the mammalian heart (notwithstanding species specificity) shows a diffuse regional pattern for sympathetic innervation with slightly greater density in the pacemaker or nodal regions. By comparison the parasympathetic innervation shows greater specificity in that nodal regions are highly innervated and left ventricle free wall sparsely innervated (3).


Phorbol Ester Inositol Phosphate Parasympathetic Control Multisite Phosphorylation Autonomic Receptor 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishing, Boston 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. V. Sulakhe
    • 1
  • J. E. Mackay
    • 1
  • D. G. Rokosh
    • 1
  • T. Morris
    • 1
  • T. D. Phan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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