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J Auton Nerv Syst. 2000 Jul 3;81(1-3):97-103.

Multiple mechanisms of fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the enteric nervous system.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Neuroscience Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


The enteric nervous system (ENS) can control gastrointestinal function independent of direct connections with the central nervous system. Enteric nerves perform this important function using multiple mechanisms of excitatory neurotransmission in enteric ganglia. Fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is largely mediated by acetylcholine (ACh) acting at nicotinic cholinergic receptors but in the ENS there are noncholinergic fast excitatory neurotransmitters. There are two broad types of neurons in the ENS: S neurons and AH neurons. S neurons are interneurons and motoneurons while AH neurons are sensory neurons. Three subsets of S neurons in the myenteric plexus can be distinguished on the basis of the neurotransmitters producing fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) in each subset. In one subset, fEPSPs are mediated solely by ACh acting at nicotinic cholinergic receptors. In a second subset of S neurons, ATP acting at P2X purine receptors and ACh contribute to the fEPSP while in a third subset, fEPSPs are mediated by 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) acting at 5-HT(3) receptors and ACh. Some AH neurons also receive fast excitatory synaptic input. The fEPSPs recorded from AH neurons are mediated ACh and also by glutamate acting at alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) receptors. Multiple mechanisms of fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the ENS are likely to contribute to its capacity to regulate complex gastrointestinal functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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