Synaptic and membrane properties of parasympathetic ganglionic neurons innervating mouse trachea and bronchi

Letitia A. Weigand, Allen C. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The pathophysiology of airway diseases, such as asthma, is increasingly studied using transgenic mice and other mouse models of airway inflammation where allergen-induced changes in airway smooth muscle tone and mucous secretion is due, in part, to activation of preganglionic airway parasympathetic nerves. Ganglionic parasympathetic neurons located in the airways in several species, including humans, have anatomical and electrophysiological properties that limit transmission of preganglionic synaptic input. In this study, intracellular recordings were made from neurons in parasympathetic ganglia located on the trachea and bronchi of adult mice to determine electrophysiological properties associated with regulation of transmission of preganglionic input. Ganglionic neurons were characterized as having either tonic or phasic action potential accommodation patterns. Tonic neurons responded with repetitive action potentials sustained throughout a depolarizing current step, whereas phasic neurons generated one or a burst of action potential(s) and accommodated. A small subset displayed both patterns. Phasic neurons could be further differentiated as usually having either short- or long-duration after-hyperpolarizing potential following single and multiple action potentials. In most cells, stimulation of preganglionic nerves elicited one population of nicotinic fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials that were graded in amplitude, usually suprathreshold for action potential generation, and did not decrease in amplitude during higher frequency stimulation. Dye injection into the neurons revealed that dendrites were either absent or very short. These results provide evidence that in contrast to the characteristics of airway parasympathetic neurons reported in other species, including human, the electrophysiological and synaptic properties, and anatomical characteristics of mouse lower airway ganglionic neurons, are less associated with integration of presynaptic input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Airway diseases
  • Asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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