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Mol Neurobiol. 2009 Aug;40(1):87-100. doi: 10.1007/s12035-009-8073-0. Epub 2009 May 16.

Revisiting the stimulus-secretion coupling in the adrenal medulla: role of gap junction-mediated intercellular communication.

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Institute of Functional Genomics, Montpellier, France.


The current view of stimulation-secretion coupling in adrenal neuroendocrine chromaffin cells holds that catecholamines are released upon transsynaptic sympathetic stimulation mediated by acetylcholine released from the splanchnic nerve terminals. However, this traditional vertical scheme would merit to be revisited in the light of recent data. Although electrical discharges invading the splanchnic nerve endings are the major physiological stimulus to trigger catecholamine release in vivo, growing evidence indicates that intercellular chromaffin cell communication mediated by gap junctions represents an additional route by which biological signals (electrical activity, changes in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration,...) propagate between adjacent cells and trigger subsequent catecholamine exocytosis. Accordingly, it has been proposed that gap junctional communication efficiently helps synapses to lead chromaffin cell function and, in particular, hormone secretion. The experimental clues supporting this hypothesis are presented and discussed with regards to both interaction with the excitatory cholinergic synaptic transmission and physiopathology of the adrenal medulla.

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