preganglionic autonomic fibers


Summary: NERVE FIBERS which project from the central nervous system to AUTONOMIC GANGLIA. In the sympathetic division most preganglionic fibers originate with neurons in the intermediolateral column of the SPINAL CORD, exit via ventral roots from upper thoracic through lower lumbar segments, and project to the paravertebral ganglia; there they either terminate in SYNAPSES or continue through the SPLANCHNIC NERVES to the prevertebral ganglia. In the parasympathetic division the fibers originate in neurons of the BRAIN STEM and sacral spinal cord. In both divisions the principal transmitter is ACETYLCHOLINE but peptide cotransmitters may also be released.

Top Publications

  1. Marina N, Morales T, Diaz N, Mena F. Suckling-induced activation of neural c-fos expression at lower thoracic rat spinal cord segments. Brain Res. 2002;954:100-14 pubmed
    ..These results are consistent with previous findings on the sympathetic reflex regulation of the mammary gland, as well as on the importance of the nonsuckling interval for optimal functioning of lactation. ..
  2. Logan S, Pickering A, Gibson I, Nolan M, Spanswick D. Electrotonic coupling between rat sympathetic preganglionic neurones in vitro. J Physiol. 1996;495 ( Pt 2):491-502 pubmed
    ..6. The ability of groups of electrotonically coupled SPNs to generate spontaneous discharges within the spinal cord provides a novel mechanism for the integration and synchronization of information within the sympathetic nervous system. ..
  3. Gladwell S, Coote J. Inhibitory and indirect excitatory effects of dopamine on sympathetic preganglionic neurones in the neonatal rat spinal cord in vitro. Brain Res. 1999;818:397-407 pubmed
    ..Haloperidol did not block the dopamine induced hyperpolarisations. Dopamine also induced fast synaptic activity which was mimicked by a D2 agonist and blocked by haloperidol. D1 agonists did not elicit fast synaptic activity. ..
  4. Wang H, Li S, Wen C, Xiao C, Su B. Morphological changes of cholinergic nerve fibers in the urinary bladder after establishment of artificial somatic-autonomic reflex arc in rats. Neurosci Bull. 2007;23:277-81 pubmed
    ..Acetylcholine is still the major neurotransmitter of the new reflex arc. The controllability of detrusor may be promoted when it is reinnervated by the pelvic ganglia efferent somatic motor fibers from the postganglionic axons. ..
  5. Haxhiu M, Yamamoto B, Dreshaj I, Ferguson D. Activation of the midbrain periaqueductal gray induces airway smooth muscle relaxation. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002;93:440-9 pubmed
    ..These data indicate, for the first time, that activation of vl PAG dilates the airways by a release of GABA and activation of GABA(A) receptors expressed by AVPNs. ..
  6. Ito T, Iino S, Nojyo Y. A part of cholinergic fibers in mouse superior cervical ganglia contain GABA or glutamate. Brain Res. 2005;1046:234-8 pubmed
    ..The origin of these fibers was discussed. ..
  7. Wu M, Kc P, Mack S, Haxhiu M. Ablation of vagal preganglionic neurons innervating the extra-thoracic trachea affects ventilatory responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia. Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2006;152:36-50 pubmed
    ..05) in CTb-SA rats as compared to animals receiving CTb only. These results suggest that AVPNs participate in the respiratory frequency response to hypercapnia or hypoxia. ..
  8. Haxhiu M, Erokwu B, Dreshaj I. The role of excitatory amino acids in airway reflex responses in anesthetized dogs. J Auton Nerv Syst. 1997;67:192-9 pubmed
    ..Findings indicate that an increase in central cholinergic outflow to the airways by a variety of excitatory afferent inputs is mediated via activation of EAA receptors, mainly AMPA/kainate subtype of glutamate receptors. ..
  9. Huang Y, Chen L, Gu Y, Yu G. Sympathetic preganglionic neurons project to superior cervical ganglion via C7 spinal nerve in pup but not in adult rats. Auton Neurosci. 2010;154:54-8 pubmed publisher
    ..It suggests that in newborns with brachial plexopathy, presence of Horner's syndrome may be correlated with avulsion of C7. ..

More Information


  1. Matsuda H, Tsai C, Tseng C, Noriage A, Tsai T, Dai Y, et al. Neurophysiologic changes after preganglionic and postganglionic nerve-root constriction: an experimental study in the rat. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007;32:950-8 pubmed
    ..We investigated changes in spinal somatosensory-evoked potential (SSEP) and nerve action potential (NAP), correlated behavior, and associated pathologic observation in experimental radiculopathy...
  2. Wan S, Coleman F, Travagli R. Cholecystokinin-8s excites identified rat pancreatic-projecting vagal motoneurons. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007;293:G484-92 pubmed
    ..These data indicate that CCK-8s may control pancreas-exocrine secretion also via an effect on pancreas-projecting DMV neurons. ..
  3. Wu J, Huang W, Huang M, Tsai Y, Chen Y, Shih Y, et al. A novel strategy for repairing preganglionic cervical root avulsion in brachial plexus injury by sural nerve grafting. J Neurosurg. 2009;110:775-85 pubmed publisher
  4. Kepper M, Keast J. Location, immunohistochemical features, and spinal connections of autonomic neurons innervating the rat seminal vesicles. Biol Reprod. 1997;57:1164-74 pubmed
    ..Axons associated with the secretory epithelia may regulate secretion or perhaps provide trophic support. Finally, acute damage to preganglionic sacral and lumbar nerves caused a transient increase in glandular weight. ..
  5. Oshima N, Kumagai H, Onimaru H, Kawai A, Pilowsky P, Iigaya K, et al. Monosynaptic excitatory connection from the rostral ventrolateral medulla to sympathetic preganglionic neurons revealed by simultaneous recordings. Hypertens Res. 2008;31:1445-54 pubmed publisher
    ..The results explain the mechanism by which Ang II in the RVLM area increases peripheral sympathetic activity and blood pressure. ..
  6. Ueno T, Ueno S, Kakazu Y, Akaike N, Nabekura J. Bidirectional modulation of P2X receptor-mediated response by divalent cations in rat dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus neurons. J Neurochem. 2001;78:1009-18 pubmed
    ..DMV neurons possess similar P2X receptor characteristics to SCG neurons. ..
  7. Morgan C, Ohara P. Quantitative analysis of the dendrites of sacral preganglionic neurons in the cat. J Comp Neurol. 2001;437:56-69 pubmed
    ..The intermediate neurons had dendrites in both locations. Taken together, these data indicate a heterogeneous population of PGN in the lateral band of the sacral parasympathetic nucleus. ..
  8. Naito J, Ishikawa H, Ohmori Y, Watanabe T. Cells of origin of spinal projections from the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus in the chicken. J Auton Nerv Syst. 1996;61:321-3 pubmed
  9. Moore C, Wilson C, Mayer C, Acquah S, Massari V, Haxhiu M. A GABAergic inhibitory microcircuit controlling cholinergic outflow to the airways. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004;96:260-70 pubmed
    ..We conclude that a tonically active monosynaptic GABAergic circuit utilizing symmetric synapses regulates the discharge of AVPNs. ..
  10. Fedin A, Postnikova T, Kuzubova N, Danilov L, Lebedeva E. [Alteration of trachea and bronchi smooth muscles constriction under long inhalation of dioxide nitrogen by rats]. Ross Fiziol Zh Im I M Sechenova. 2007;93:1163-70 pubmed
    ..The research results indicate important role of neuron functional module in pathology of the respiratory ways caused inhalation of dioxide nitrogen. ..
  11. Vollmer R. Selective neural regulation of epinephrine and norepinephrine cells in the adrenal medulla -- cardiovascular implications. Clin Exp Hypertens. 1996;18:731-51 pubmed
    ..The presence of mechanisms that allow for separate control of the EPI and NE cells may significantly augment the range of cardiovascular and metabolic responses mediated through activation of the adrenal medulla. ..
  12. Nguyen D, Toshida H, Schurr J, Beuerman R. Microarray analysis of the rat lacrimal gland following the loss of parasympathetic control of secretion. Physiol Genomics. 2004;18:108-18 pubmed
    ..Components of the secretory pathway were negatively affected, and the increase in cell proliferation and inflammation may lead to loss of organization in the parasympathectomized lacrimal gland. ..
  13. Blinder K, Johnson T, Massari V. Enkephalins and functionally specific vagal preganglionic neurons to the heart: ultrastructural studies in the cat. Auton Neurosci. 2005;120:52-61 pubmed
  14. Ivanov AYa -, Skok V. Neuronal mechanisms responsible for ongoing activity of rabbit superior cervical ganglion neurons. J Auton Nerv Syst. 1992;41:61-6 pubmed
    ..This effect is probably due to the increase in the duration of after-hyperpolarization observed after the application of methacine.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)..
  15. Brooke R, Pyner S, McLeish P, Buchan S, Deuchars J, Deuchars S. Spinal cord interneurones labelled transneuronally from the adrenal gland by a GFP-herpes virus construct contain the potassium channel subunit Kv3.1b. Auton Neurosci. 2002;98:45-50 pubmed
    ..In conjunction with our electrophysiological data, this highlights a role for the Kv3.1b subunit in shaping the activity of intemeurones involved in sympathetic control. ..
  16. van den Top M, Nolan M, Lee K, Richardson P, Buijs R, Davies C, et al. Orexins induce increased excitability and synchronisation of rat sympathetic preganglionic neurones. J Physiol. 2003;549:809-21 pubmed
  17. Smith A, Hansen M, Liu D, Adams D. Pre- and postsynaptic actions of ATP on neurotransmission in rat submandibular ganglia. Neuroscience. 2001;107:283-91 pubmed
    ..We conclude that disruption of ganglionic transmission in vivo by either nerve damage or synaptic blockade may up-regulate P2X expression or availability and alter neuronal excitability. ..
  18. Yoon S, Kwon Y, Kim H, Roh D, Seo H, Han H, et al. A spinal muscarinic M2 receptor-GABAergic disinhibition pathway that modulates peripheral inflammation in mice. Neuropharmacology. 2007;53:677-86 pubmed
  19. Chen Y, Li M, Liu H, Wang J. The airway-related parasympathetic motoneurones in the ventrolateral medulla of newborn rats were dissociated anatomically and in functional control. Exp Physiol. 2007;92:99-108 pubmed
    ..These results provide evidence that APPMs controlling different segments of the airway might be dissociated in the ventrolateral medulla both anatomically and in functional control. ..
  20. Miura A, Kawatani M, de Groat W. Excitatory synaptic currents in lumbosacral parasympathetic preganglionic neurons evoked by stimulation of the dorsal commissure. J Neurophysiol. 2003;89:382-9 pubmed
    ..6% increase, n = 8) of EPSCs was observed. These results indicate that PGN receive monosynaptic and polysynaptic glutamatergic excitatory inputs from neurons and/or axonal pathways in the DCM. ..
  21. Yip J, Yip Y, Nakajima K, Capriotti C. Reelin controls position of autonomic neurons in the spinal cord. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000;97:8612-6 pubmed
    ..This study thus indicates that reelin affects neuronal migration outside of the brain. Moreover, the relationship between reelin and migrating preganglionic neurons suggests that reelin acts as a barrier to neuronal migration. ..
  22. Malinowska B, Kozłowska H, Koneczny B, Schlicker E. Nociceptin inhibits the neurogenic vasopressor response in the pithed rat via prejunctional ORL1 receptors. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2000;361:80-4 pubmed
  23. Marson L, Cai R, Makhanova N. Identification of spinal neurons involved in the urethrogenital reflex in the female rat. J Comp Neurol. 2003;462:355-70 pubmed
  24. Ranson R, Motawei K, Pyner S, Coote J. The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus sends efferents to the spinal cord of the rat that closely appose sympathetic preganglionic neurones projecting to the stellate ganglion. Exp Brain Res. 1998;120:164-72 pubmed
  25. Kong S, Liu J, Ramage A, Wang Y. Cardiac vagal preganglionic neurones in the intermediate zone of the brainstem in anaesthetized cats. Exp Physiol. 2007;92:1023-8 pubmed
    ..Right atrial injections of phenylbiguanide excited all four CVPNs tested. In conclusion, CVPNs located in the intermediate zone have similar properties to those in the dorsal vagal nucleus but not the nucleus ambiguus...
  26. Schober A, Krieglstein K, Unsicker K. Molecular cues for the development of adrenal chromaffin cells and their preganglionic innervation. Eur J Clin Invest. 2000;30 Suppl 3:87-90 pubmed
    ..Taken together, these data provide a more complete picture of molecular signalling in the development of one of the most important neuroendocrine tissues in vertebrates. ..
  27. Wan S, Coleman F, Travagli R. Glucagon-like peptide-1 excites pancreas-projecting preganglionic vagal motoneurons. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007;292:G1474-82 pubmed
    ..e., putative endocrine secretion-controlling neurons) could be distinguished from neurons responsive to PP (i.e., putative exocrine secretion-controlling neurons). ..
  28. Spanswick D, Renaud L, Logan S. Bilaterally evoked monosynaptic EPSPs, NMDA receptors and potentiation in rat sympathetic preganglionic neurones in vitro. J Physiol. 1998;509 ( Pt 1):195-209 pubmed
    ..Synaptic plasticity is a feature of glutamatergic transmission in some SPNs where EPSPs are potentiated following a brief high-frequency stimulus. Our data also suggest a differential expression of NMDA receptors by these neurones. ..
  29. Babic T, Ciriello J. Medullary and spinal cord projections from cardiovascular responsive sites in the rostral ventromedial medulla. J Comp Neurol. 2004;469:391-412 pubmed
  30. Schober A, Unsicker K. Growth and neurotrophic factors regulating development and maintenance of sympathetic preganglionic neurons. Int Rev Cytol. 2001;205:37-76 pubmed
    ..Finally, we review the distribution and functions of trophic molecules that may have relevance for development and maintenance of preganglionic sympathetic neurons. ..
  31. Lew H, Coelho P, Chou L. Preganglionic approach to transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2004;83:378 pubmed
  32. Yoon S, Kim H, Roh D, Kwon Y, Jeong T, Han H, et al. The anti-inflammatory effect of peripheral bee venom stimulation is mediated by central muscarinic type 2 receptors and activation of sympathetic preganglionic neurons. Brain Res. 2005;1049:210-6 pubmed
    ..This activation ultimately leads to the release of adrenal catecholamines that contribute to dBVAI. ..
  33. Salo L, Campos R, McAllen R. Differential control of cardiac functions by the brain. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2006;33:1255-8 pubmed
    ..Premotor and other central neurons can have preferential actions on heart rate, contractility or A-V conduction. 3. The functional implications of selective cardiac control are discussed. ..
  34. Haxhiu M, Kc P, Neziri B, Yamamoto B, Ferguson D, Massari V. Catecholaminergic microcircuitry controlling the output of airway-related vagal preganglionic neurons. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003;94:1999-2009 pubmed
  35. Grkovic I, Anderson C. Calbindin D28K-immunoreactivity identifies distinct subpopulations of sympathetic pre- and postganglionic neurons in the rat. J Comp Neurol. 1997;386:245-59 pubmed
  36. Porter J, Balaban C. Connections between the vestibular nuclei and brain stem regions that mediate autonomic function in the rat. J Vestib Res. 1997;7:63-76 pubmed
    ..These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a common pattern of vestibular nuclear projections to autonomic regions is shared by rabbits, cats, and rats. ..
  37. Ouseph A, Levine J. Alpha 1-adrenoceptor-mediated sympathetically dependent mechanical hyperalgesia in the rat. Eur J Pharmacol. 1995;273:107-12 pubmed
  38. Dias Da Silva V, Gnecchi Ruscone T, Lavelli B, Bellina V, Manzella D, Porta A, et al. Opposite effects of iv amiodarone on cardiovascular vagal and sympathetic efferent activities in rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2002;283:R543-8 pubmed
    ..The initial increase in sympathetic activity was not observed in barodenervated animals. These changes in vagal and sympathetic activity could play an important role in contributing to the antiarrhythmic action of amiodarone. ..
  39. O Leary D, Jones J. Discharge patterns of preganglionic neurones with axons in a cardiac vagal branch in the rat. Exp Physiol. 2003;88:711-23 pubmed
    ..The results of these experiments demonstrate the usefulness of combining spike discrimination with multiple spike-triggered averaging to simultaneously record B and C centrifugal vagal efferents. ..
  40. Llewellyn Smith I, Weaver L. Changes in synaptic inputs to sympathetic preganglionic neurons after spinal cord injury. J Comp Neurol. 2001;435:226-40 pubmed
    ..In summary, SPNs participate in vasomotor control after SCI despite profound denervation. An altered balance of excitatory and inhibitory inputs may explain injury-induced hypotension. ..
  41. Morgan C. Axons of sacral preganglionic neurons in the cat: I. Origin, initial segment, and myelination. J Neurocytol. 2001;30:523-44 pubmed
    ..It is proposed that the particular structure of these axons may be part of a timing mechanism that coordinates preganglionic neurons with other spinal neurons involved in target organ reflexes. ..
  42. Nguyen D, Vadlamudi V, Toshida H, Beuerman R. Loss of parasympathetic innervation leads to sustained expression of pro-inflammatory genes in the rat lacrimal gland. Auton Neurosci. 2006;124:81-9 pubmed
    ..These changes occur without increases in expression of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype 3, and may suggest the early changes in LG acinar cells and the pathophysiology of autoimmune responses. ..
  43. Whyment A, Blanks A, Lee K, Renaud L, Spanswick D. Histamine excites neonatal rat sympathetic preganglionic neurons in vitro via activation of H1 receptors. J Neurophysiol. 2006;95:2492-500 pubmed
    ..These data represent the first demonstration of H1 receptor expression in SPNs and suggest that histamine acts to regulate excitability of these neurons via a direct postsynaptic effect on H1 receptors. ..
  44. Kuchiiwa S, Kuchiiwa T, Nonaka S, Nakagawa S. Facial nerve parasympathetic preganglionic afferents to the accessory otic ganglia by way of the chorda tympani nerve in the cat. Anat Embryol (Berl). 1998;197:377-82 pubmed
  45. Villalon C, Centurión D, del Mar Fernandez M, Moran A, Sánchez López A. 5-Hydroxytryptamine inhibits the tachycardia induced by selective preganglionic sympathetic stimulation in pithed rats. Life Sci. 1999;64:1839-47 pubmed
  46. Godlewski G, Malinowska B, Schlicker E. Presynaptic cannabinoid CB(1) receptors are involved in the inhibition of the neurogenic vasopressor response during septic shock in pithed rats. Br J Pharmacol. 2004;142:701-8 pubmed
    ..4. We conclude that in the initial phase of septic shock, the activation of presynaptic CB(1) receptors by endogenously formed cannabinoids contributes to the inhibition of the neurogenic vasopressor response. ..
  47. Rezek O, Boldogkoi Z, Tombácz D, Kovágó C, Gerendai I, Palkovits M, et al. Location of parotid preganglionic neurons in the inferior salivatory nucleus and their relation to the superior salivatory nucleus of rat. Neurosci Lett. 2008;440:265-9 pubmed publisher
    ..On the basis of these data a three-dimensional topography is given suggesting the relationship between the ISN and SSN. ..
  48. Sato J, Himi T, Matsui T. Parasympathetic schwannoma of the submandibular gland. Auris Nasus Larynx. 2001;28:283-5 pubmed
    ..The clinical aspect of this tumor is discussed, followed by a brief literature review. ..
  49. Noack Wiemers F, Wilczek A, Tegetmeyer H, Simon J. [Left hemifacial flushing and sweating]. Hautarzt. 2006;57:1138-42 pubmed
  50. Dendorfer A, Fitschen M, Raasch W, Tempel K, Dominiak P. Mechanisms of bradykinin-induced catecholamine release in pithed spontaneously hypertensive rats. Immunopharmacology. 1999;44:99-104 pubmed
    ..A minor stimulating effect of bradykinin on plasma adrenaline is provoked independently of B2-receptors via histamine acting on H1-receptors. ..
  51. Marosfôi L, Oszwald Horváth E, Réthelyi M. Comparative neurochemical study of the thoracic and sacral intermediolateral nuclei in the rat. Ideggyogy Sz. 2007;60:205-8 pubmed
    ..It is probable that the preganglionic parasympathetic neurons in the nucleus receive synapses from the primary afferent fibers. ..
  52. Persson S, Havton L. Differential synaptic inputs to the cell body and proximal dendrites of preganglionic parasympathetic neurons in the rat conus medullaris. Neuroscience. 2008;157:656-65 pubmed publisher
    ..Our studies suggest that the synaptic input to PPNs originates from multiple distinct sources and is differentially distributed and integrated over the cell membrane surface. ..
  53. Gladwell S, Coote J. Fast excitatory post synaptic potentials and their response to catecholaminergic antagonists in rat sympathetic preganglionic neurones in vitro. Neurosci Lett. 1999;268:89-92 pubmed