Development pharmacology and physiology synapses: Neurotransmitter receptors, neuroeffector associations and neural influences

Caryl E. Hill*, Jacqueline K. Phillips, Shaun L. Sandow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


1. The functional innervation of autonomic target tissues occurs early during development, at a time when both the nerves and post-synaptic target tissues are still differentiating. 2. Physiological responses appear soon after the arrival of the first fibres when uptake and release mechanisms within the nerves are already functional. Initial responses differ from those in the mature animal, both in the form and, frequently, in the subtypes of receptors involved. 3. Results of a number of studies suggest that the initial expression of neurotransmitter receptors during development is largely independent of neural influences. Changes recorded in neurotransmitter receptor expression during development appear to be similarly independent of neural influences. 4. While signal transduction pathways coupling adrenergic neurotransmitter receptors to effector responses appear to develop independently of the nerves, the efficient coupling of muscarinic receptors often requires the action of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. 5. During the period of synapse formation, the neural plexus continues to expand. While developing varicosities can release the neurotransmitter, the capacity for neurotransmitter retention appears to be restricted. Developmental changes in the neurotransmitters that produce functional responses, while well known in the sweat glands, may also be seen in more subtle forms in other target tissues. 6. Ultrastructural studies suggest that close physical associations between the membranes of the release sites of the developing nerves and the target cells may form early during development when physiological responses are still immature. These close associations could enable more specific reciprocal interactions between nerves and target cells involving known and novel growth factors, neuropeptides and cytokines important in shaping the mature synaptic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-590
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomic
  • Development
  • Interaction
  • mRNA
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Receptors
  • Synapse
  • Ul trastructure


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