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The functional significance of the sympathetic innervation of mucous glands in the bronchi of man.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Mathematics


1. Pieces of human bronchi, from lung resected for carcinoma of the bronchus, were mounted in Ussing chambers and given [35S]sulphate as radiolabelled precursor of mucous glycoproteins (mucins). The release of 35S, bound to macromolecules, into the luminal half-chamber was used as an index of mucin secretion. 2. Noradrenaline, at concentrations of 1, 10 and 100 microM, was given into both halves of the Ussing chamber. At the lowest concentration, noradrenaline failed to change mucin output, but at the two higher concentrations it stimulated output. 3. In other experiments the sympathetic nerves in the bronchial wall were labelled with 5-hydroxydopamine and examined under the electron microscope. The distances between adrenergic nerve varicosities and submucosal glands were measured; some sympathetic nerve varicosities were seen within 1 microns of gland cells. 4. A simple mathematical model for the diffusion of noradrenaline was used to predict the concentrations of the transmitter likely to result at different distances from a nerve if one or more vesicles of noradrenaline were released. 5. The model predicts that the release of a single large vesicle of noradrenaline is likely to generate an effective concentration of transmitter provided that the nerve is within 1 micron of the target cell.

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