The Demonstration and Measurement of Adenosine Triphosphate Release from Nerves

  • Thomas D. White


In 1953, Holton and Holton observed that antidromic stimulation of the great auricular nerve of the rabbit ear perfused with Locke’s solution resulted in a specific increase in the optical density at 260 nm in samples of venous effluent. The differences in absorption spectra of samples of venous effluent were “typical of those produced by substances containing purine and pyrimidine rings, including ATP and its break-down products.” Later, Holton and Holton (1954) showed similar time courses for vasodilation caused by antidromic stimulation of the sensory nerve and that caused by injections of ATP. In a subsequent study, Holton (1959) demonstrated, using firefly luciferin-luciferase, that ATP was liberated when the great auricular nerve was stimulated. All these results led the Holtons to propose that ATP might be released from sensory nerve endings and have a possible role in chemical transmission. Notwithstanding the recent evidence that substance P may also be a likely candidate for the transmitter involved in the vasodilation responses following antidromic stimulation of sensory nerves (Gazelius et al, 1981), the studies of the Holtons stand out as the first to suggest a possible transmitter function for ATP or its derivatives.


Synaptosomal Preparation Great Auricular Nerve Maximum Peak Height Smooth Muscle Preparation Propagate Action Potential 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas D. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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