Intracellular Requirements for Exocytotic Noradrenaline Release

  • D. E. Knight
  • H. Von Grafenstein
  • D. J. Maconochie
Conference paper


Exocytosis, the process by which intracellular vesicles fuse with the inner surface of the plasma membrane, is thought to be the main mechanism underlying synaptic transmission at noradrenergic nerve terminals. A detailed study of the intracellular mechanisms involved has been hampered by the relative inaccesibility to the cytosol of markers that report intracellular chemical changes associated with secretion, or of solutes that clamp the chemical composition at the site of exocytosis. For this reason we have used not sympathetic nerve terminals as our experimental preparation, but instead the adrenal medullary (chromaffin) cell [1]. Although the medulla is part of the endocrine system, the cells are derived embryologically from neural crest tissue and retain the neuronal properties of excitable tissue, that is they exhibit sodium dependent action potentials and have voltage sensitive calcium channels [2]. One marked difference between an adrenal medullary cell and a sympathetic nerve terminal is the rate of secretion of transmitter. All the evidence suggests that noradrenaline is secreted form nerve terminals within milliseconds of the arrival of an action potential, whereas secretion from the adrena medullary cell proceeds at a much slower rate [3]. Apart from this difference the adrenal medullary cell serves as an excellent model of a sympathetic neurone in which to study the mechanism of catecholamine secretion, and this short article reviews the experimental approaches we have used here at King’s College, the results and conclusions reached, and the direction we will be taking in the future.


Chromaffin Cell Catecholamine Secretion Adrenal Chromaffin Cell Chromaffin Granule Sympathetic Nerve Terminal 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. E. Knight
  • H. Von Grafenstein
  • D. J. Maconochie

There are no affiliations available

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