Pharmacology of the sympathetic nervous system
Drugs may interfere with the efferent sympathetic system, mainly at four different levels: 1) the sympathetic centres (and these in turn are located at different levels), 2) the sympathetic ganglia, 3) the postganglionic sympathetic nerve-endings, and 4) the effector cells (smooth muscle, heart, glands, etc.). In general their actions are brought about by interference with neurohumoral transmission mechanisms — at least peripherally, but probably also centrally. In the periphery, essentially two transmitters are involved, namely noradrenaline (N.A.) in the postganglionic fibres, and acetylcholine in the preganglionic fibres. However, some postganglionic sympathetic fibres are cholinergic. Some of them have a vasodilator function, but there are certain reasons to doubt that they are of any great importance in primates (Uvnäs, 1964). To complicate the matter further, N.A.-containing fibres have been found, with the aid of the new histochemical fluorescence method of visualising N.A. and related compounds developed by the late N.-Å. Hillarp and his co-workers, to terminate in sympathetic ganglia (Hamberger et al., 1963, 1965), and in parasympathetic ganglia, too, for that matter (Norberg, 1964; Hamberger and Norberg, 1965).
KeywordsDopamine Cocaine Noradrenaline Acetylcholine Amphetamine
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