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    Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System

    This manuscript discusses the physiology of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The following topics are presented: regulation of activity; efferent pathways; sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions; neurotransmitters, their receptors and the termination ...

    Am J Pharm Educ. 2007 Aug 15; 71(4): 78.

    doi: 10.5688/aj710478

    PMCID: PMC1959222 PMID: 17786266

    Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System

    Laurie Kelly McCorry, PhD

    Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer

    This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

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    Abstract

    This manuscript discusses the physiology of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The following topics are presented: regulation of activity; efferent pathways; sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions; neurotransmitters, their receptors and the termination of their activity; functions of the ANS; and the adrenal medullae. In addition, the application of this material to the practice of pharmacy is of special interest. Two case studies regarding insecticide poisoning and pheochromocytoma are included. The ANS and the accompanying case studies are discussed over 5 lectures and 2 recitation sections during a 2-semester course in Human Physiology. The students are in the first-professional year of the doctor of pharmacy program.

    Keywords: autonomic nervous system, sympathetic, parasympathetic, adrenergic, cholinergic, physiology

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    INTRODUCTION

    This manuscript presents a detailed review of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). A thorough knowledge of this system is quite important as it prepares the pharmacy student for further studies in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and therapeutics. The ANS plays a crucial role in the maintenance of homeostasis. Furthermore, this system may play a role in many systemic diseases (eg, heart failure) and drugs that affect this system may improve (eg, β2-adrenergic agonists and asthma) or exacerbate (eg, α1-adrenergic agonists and hypertension) various disease symptoms and processes. Although this manuscript focuses primarily on the basic anatomy and physiology of the ANS, references to diseases and medications involving the ANS are included to illustrate the application of this system to the practice of pharmacy.

    The ANS and the accompanying case studies are discussed over 5 lectures and 2 recitation sections during a 2-semester course in Human Physiology. The lectures typically include 300-325 students, although the recitation sections are much smaller with 20-30 students. The students are in the first professional year of a doctor of pharmacy program.

    Also known as the visceral or involuntary nervous system, the ANS functions without conscious, voluntary control. Because it innervates cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and various endocrine and exocrine glands, this nervous system influences the activity of most tissues and organ systems in the body. Therefore, the ANS makes a significant contribution to homeostasis. The regulation of blood pressure, gastrointestinal responses to food, contraction of the urinary bladder, focusing of the eyes, and thermoregulation are just a few of the many homeostatic functions regulated by the ANS.

    At this point in the class discussion, we take a break from our traditional classroom format for a story about my next door neighbor, Joe, and my skeleton, Matilda. Interestingly, the ANS is discussed in this Human Physiology course in mid to late October (ie, around Halloween time). Joe leaves for work at 5:00 am when it is still quite dark outside. On Halloween Eve, we placed Matilda in the driver's seat of Joe's pickup truck. Halloween morning, we arose at 4:45 am, poured coffee, and waited patiently by the window located nearest to Joe's truck. Completely unsuspecting, Joe came walking down the driveway at his usual time. When he opened the truck door, the sound of “Aghhhh!!!” shattered the quiet of the morning. Poor Joe stood by his truck wide-eyed and clutching his chest. Upon opening our window, we cheerfully wished our friend a “Happy Halloween!” Although Joe's response to our holiday greeting cannot be published in this article, suffice it to say that the students always enjoy it immensely.

    I now ask the class “What happened to Joe?” Several events occurred in his body at once. His heart began racing, his blood pressure increased, his pupils dilated, he began sweating, the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stood on end, and he felt a surge of adrenaline. These are some of the effects of sympathetic nervous activity in Joe's body. Meanwhile, as we waited for Joe's early morning arrival, the events occurring in my body were quite different. My heart rate was comparatively slower and my digestive system was processing the cream and sugar in my coffee. These are some of the effects of parasympathetic nervous activity. I tell my students that during the next several class periods they will learn in great detail about the many functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, the neurotransmitters released by their neurons, the receptors to which they bind, and how it is all regulated. At this point, the students often look as afraid as Joe did that Halloween morning. I reassure them (and remind them repeatedly) that it is not necessary to memorize very much at all. I encourage them to let it make sense. The sympathetic system controls “fight-or-flight” responses. In other words, this system prepares the body for strenuous physical activity. The events that we would expect to occur within the body to allow this to happen do, in fact, occur. The parasympathetic system regulates “rest and digest” functions. In other words, this system controls basic bodily functions while one is sitting quietly reading a book.

    Source : www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    Human Physiology Ch 11 Flashcards

    Start studying Human Physiology Ch 11. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

    Human Physiology Ch 11

    Which of the following characteristics is similar between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches for most neurons?

    A) Neurotransmitter is secreted from the preganglionic neuron.

    B) Neurotransmitter is secreted from the postganglionic neuron.

    C) Receptor type on the target tissues

    D) Site of origin of the nerves

    Click card to see definition 👆

    A) neurotransmitter is secreted from the preganglionic neuron

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    Which is the main enzyme responsible for the breakdown of catecholamines?

    Click card to see definition 👆

    monoamine oxidase

    Click again to see term 👆

    1/20 Created by britt176

    Terms in this set (20)

    Which of the following characteristics is similar between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches for most neurons?

    A) Neurotransmitter is secreted from the preganglionic neuron.

    B) Neurotransmitter is secreted from the postganglionic neuron.

    C) Receptor type on the target tissues

    D) Site of origin of the nerves

    A) neurotransmitter is secreted from the preganglionic neuron

    Which is the main enzyme responsible for the breakdown of catecholamines?

    monoamine oxidase

    what is an effect of the parasympathetic nervous system?

    airway constriction

    What is a varicosity in the autonomic nervous system?

    A series of swollen ends of neurons where neurotransmitter is released

    somatic motor neurons

    -skeletal muscles -voluntary -1 neuron

    autonomic motor neurons

    -involuntary

    -smooth & cardiac muscle, glands

    -parasympathetic & sympathetic

    sympathetic branch

    -fight-or-flight : uses a lot of energy

    -excitatory

    -emerge from T-L spinal cord

    parasympathetic branch

    -rest-and-digest : restores/ reserving a lot of energy

    -inhibitory (EXCEPT DUL)

    -cranial nerves & sacral spine

    antagonistic control

    One autonomic branch is excitatory, and the other branch is inhibitory

    what do sympathetic and parasympathetic preganglionic neurons release?

    release acetylcholine (ACh) onto nicotinic cholinergic receptors (nAChR) on the postganglionic cell

    what do postganglionic sympathetic neurons secrete?

    norepinephrine (NE) onto adrenergic receptors on the target cell

    what do postganglionic parasympathetic neurons secrete?

    secrete ACh onto muscarinic cholinergic receptors (mAChR) on the target cell.

    vagus nerve

    -Contains about 75% of all parasympathetic fibers

    -Sensory information from internal organs to brain

    -Output from brain to organs

    neuroeffector junction

    the synapse between a postganglionic autonomic neuron and its target cells (effector)

    varicosites

    series of swollen areas at their distal ends containing neurotransmitters

    somatic motor division

    -Single neuron -CNS origin -Myelinated -Terminus -Branches

    neuromuscular junction (NMJ)

    -Presynaptic axon terminal filled with synaptic vesicles and mitochondria

    -Synaptic cleft

    -Postsynaptic membrane of the skeletal muscle fiber

    Myasthenia gravis

    loss of ACh receptors

    motor end plate

    region of muscle membrane that contains high concentrations of ACh receptors

    GO OVER POWERPOINT ...

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    Differences Between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Nervous System

    Sympathetic and Parasympathetic are part of the autonomic nervous system, mainly involved in the different types of the physiological process of the human body.

    The Autonomic Nervous System

    The autonomic nervous system controls specific body processes, such as circulation of blood, digestion, breathing, urination, heartbeat, etc. The autonomic nervous system is named so, because it works autonomously, i.e., without a person’s conscious effort.

    The primary function of the autonomic nervous system is homeostasis. Apart from maintaining the body’s internal environment, it is also involved in controlling and maintaining the following life processes:

    Digestion Metabolism Urination Defecation Blood pressure Sexual response Body temperature Heartbeat Breathing rate Fluid balance

    There are two types of autonomic nervous system:

    Sympathetic autonomic nervous system

    Parasympathetic autonomic nervous system

    What is Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Nervous System?

    Sympathetic Autonomic Nervous System: It is the part of the autonomic nervous system, located near the thoracic and lumbar regions in the spinal cord. Its primary function is to stimulate the body’s fight or flight response. It does this by regulating the heart rate, rate of respiration, pupillary response and more.Parasympathetic Autonomic Nervous System: It is located in between the spinal cord and the medulla. It primarily stimulates the body’s “rest and digest” and “feed and breed” response.More to Read: Human Nervous System

    Read on to explore more differences between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

    Difference between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Nervous System

    The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for the “fight or flight” response during any potential danger. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system inhibits the body from overworking and restores the body to a calm and composed state. The difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system are differentiated, based on the way the body responds to environmental stimuli.

    The major differences between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system are summarised below:

    Sympathetic Parasympathetic

    Involved in the fight or flight response.  Involved in maintaining homeostasis and also, permits the rest and digest response.

    The sympathetic system prepares the body for any potential danger.  The parasympathetic system aims to bring the body to a state of calm.

    Sympathetic system has shorter neuron pathways, hence a faster response time.  Has comparatively longer neuron pathways, hence a slower response time.

    Increases heartbeat, muscles tense up.  Reduces heartbeat, muscles relaxes.

    The pupil dilates to let in more light.  The pupil contracts.

    Saliva secretion is inhibited.  Saliva secretion increases, digestion increases.

    On “fight and flight” situations, Adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands; more glycogen is converted to glucose.  No such functions exist in “fight or flight” situations.

    Conclusion

    The autonomic nervous system comprises two parts- the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response during a threat or perceived danger, and the parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to a state of calm.

    Learn more about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, or other related topics at BYJU’S Biology

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the major difference between parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system?

    The parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to a calm and composed state and prevents it from overworking. The sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, prepares the body for fight and flight response.

    What are the hormones released by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system?

    The sympathetic nervous system releases the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine that accelerate the heart rate.

    The parasympathetic nervous system releases acetylcholine, the hormone that slows down the heart rate.

    What actions are controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system?

    Salivation, urination, lacrimation, defecation and digestion are the important body activities stimulated by the parasympathetic nervous system.

    What are parasympathetic ganglia?

    These are the autonomic ganglia of the parasympathetic nervous system that lie near or within the organs they innervate.

    What are the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system composed of?

    The parasympathetic nervous system is composed of cranial and spinal nerves. The sympathetic nervous system comprises cell bodies that lie within the gray column of spinal cord.

    Source : byjus.com

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