Synaptic organization and acetylcholine sensitivity of multiply innervated autonomic ganglion cells.
The principal cells of the mudpuppy cardiac ganglion receive synapses from three sources: vagal axons, interneurons and axon collaterals from other principal cells. The simplicity of the structural organization and the visual clarity in the living preparation provide favorable conditions for examining the function of these synapses and how different classes of synapses on the same cell influence its function. We have studied the sensitivity of the principal cells to iontophoretically applied acetylcholine--the transmitter at synapses made by the vagal axons and by postganglionic axon collaterals from other principal cells. In normal ganglia, the ACh sensitivity on the cell surface is highest at the region of synapses. Partial denervation, produced by severing the vagus nerves, results in an increased ACh sensitivity in nonsynaptic areas but does not appear to affect synaptic transmission at the remaining synapses.