Autonomic nervous system
Overview
The autonomic nervous system (ANS or visceral nervous system) is the part of the peripheral nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. The main function of the PNS is to connect the central nervous system to the limbs and organs. Unlike the CNS, the PNS is not protected by the bone of spine and skull, or by the blood–brain...

 that acts as a control system
Control system
A control system is a device, or set of devices to manage, command, direct or regulate the behavior of other devices or system.There are two common classes of control systems, with many variations and combinations: logic or sequential controls, and feedback or linear controls...

 functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate
Heart rate
Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time, typically expressed as beats per minute . Heart rate can vary as the body's need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide changes, such as during exercise or sleep....

, digestion
Digestion
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones....

, respiration rate
Respiration rate
The respiration rate is a parameter which is used in ecological and agronomical modeling.In theoretical production ecology and aquaculture, it typically refers to respiration per unit of time , also referred to as relative respiration rate...

, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils, micturition (urination), and sexual arousal
Sexual arousal
Sexual arousal, or sexual excitement, is the arousal of sexual desire, during or in anticipation of sexual activity. Things that precipitate human sexual arousal are called erotic stimuli, or colloquially known as turn-ons. There are many potential stimuli, both physical or mental, which can cause...

. Whereas most of its actions are involuntary, some, such as breathing, work in tandem with the conscious mind.

It is classically divided into two subsystems: the parasympathetic nervous system
Parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system . The ANS is responsible for regulation of internal organs and glands, which occurs unconsciously...

 (PSNS) and sympathetic nervous system
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

 (SNS).
Encyclopedia
The autonomic nervous system (ANS or visceral nervous system) is the part of the peripheral nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. The main function of the PNS is to connect the central nervous system to the limbs and organs. Unlike the CNS, the PNS is not protected by the bone of spine and skull, or by the blood–brain...

 that acts as a control system
Control system
A control system is a device, or set of devices to manage, command, direct or regulate the behavior of other devices or system.There are two common classes of control systems, with many variations and combinations: logic or sequential controls, and feedback or linear controls...

 functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate
Heart rate
Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time, typically expressed as beats per minute . Heart rate can vary as the body's need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide changes, such as during exercise or sleep....

, digestion
Digestion
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones....

, respiration rate
Respiration rate
The respiration rate is a parameter which is used in ecological and agronomical modeling.In theoretical production ecology and aquaculture, it typically refers to respiration per unit of time , also referred to as relative respiration rate...

, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils, micturition (urination), and sexual arousal
Sexual arousal
Sexual arousal, or sexual excitement, is the arousal of sexual desire, during or in anticipation of sexual activity. Things that precipitate human sexual arousal are called erotic stimuli, or colloquially known as turn-ons. There are many potential stimuli, both physical or mental, which can cause...

. Whereas most of its actions are involuntary, some, such as breathing, work in tandem with the conscious mind.

It is classically divided into two subsystems: the parasympathetic nervous system
Parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system . The ANS is responsible for regulation of internal organs and glands, which occurs unconsciously...

 (PSNS) and sympathetic nervous system
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

 (SNS). Relatively recently, a third subsystem of neurons that have been named 'non-adrenergic and non-cholinergic' neurons (because they use nitric oxide as a neurotransmitter) have been described and found to be integral in autonomic function, particularly in the gut and the lungs.

With regard to function, the ANS is usually divided into sensory (afferent) and motor (efferent) subsystems. Within these systems, however, there are inhibitory and excitatory synapses between neurons.

The enteric nervous system
Enteric nervous system
The enteric nervous system is a subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that directly controls the gastrointestinal system in vertebrates.It is derived from neural crest.-Function:...

 is sometimes considered part of the autonomic nervous system, and sometimes considered an independent system.

Anatomy

ANS innervation is divided into sympathetic nervous system
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

 and parasympathetic nervous system
Parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system . The ANS is responsible for regulation of internal organs and glands, which occurs unconsciously...

 divisions. The sympathetic division has thoracolumbar “outflow”, meaning that the neurons begin at the thoracic and lumbar (T1-L2) portions of the spinal cord. The parasympathetic division has craniosacral “outflow”, meaning that the neurons begin at the cranial nerves (CN 3, CN7, CN 9, CN10) and sacral (S2-S4) spinal cord.

The ANS is unique in that it requires a sequential two-neuron efferent pathway; the preganglionic neuron must first synapse onto a postganglionic neuron before innervating the target organ. The preganglionic, or first, neuron will begin at the “outflow” and will synapse at the postganglionic, or second, neuron’s cell body. The post ganglionic neuron will then synapse at the target organ.

Sympathetic division

The sympathetic division (thoracolumbar outflow) consists of cell bodies in the lateral horn of spinal cord (intermediolateral cell columns) of the spinal cord from T1 to L2. These cell bodies are GVE (general visceral efferent) neurons and are the preganglionic neurons. There are several locations upon which preganglionic neurons can synapse for their postganglionic neurons:
  • Paravertebral ganglia
    Paravertebral ganglia
    Along the length of the sympathetic trunk are ganglia known as ganglia of sympathetic trunk or paravertebral ganglia. The ganglia are distinguished as cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral and, except in the neck, they closely correspond in number to the vertebrae.-Arrangement:Only the cervical...

     of the sympathetic chain (these run on either side of the vertebral bodies)
  • Prevertebral ganglia (celiac ganglia, superior mesenteric ganglia, inferior mesenteric ganglia)
  • Chromaffin cells of adrenal medulla
    Adrenal medulla
    The adrenal medulla is part of the adrenal gland. It is located at the center of the gland, being surrounded by the adrenal cortex. It is the innermost part of the adrenal gland, consisting of cells that secrete epinephrine , norepinephrine , and a small amount of dopamine in response to...

     (this is the one exception to the two-neuron pathway rule: synapse is direct onto the target cell bodies)

These ganglia provide the postganglionic neurons from which innervation of target organs follows. Examples of splanchnic (visceral) nerves are:
  • Cervical cardiac nerves & thoracic visceral nerves which synapse in the sympathetic chain
  • Thoracic splanchnic nerves (greater, lesser, least) which synapse in the prevertebral ganglion
  • Lumbar splanchnic nerves which synapse in the prevertebral ganglion
  • Sacral splanchnic nerves which synapse in the inferior hypogastric plexus

These all contain afferent (sensory) nerves as well, known as GVA (general visceral afferent) neurons.

Parasympathetic division

The parasympathetic division (craniosacral outflow) consists of cell bodies from one of two locations: brainstem (Cranial Nerves III, VII, IX, X) or sacral spinal cord (S2, S3, S4). These are the preganglionic neurons, which synapse with postganglionic neurons in these locations:
  • Parasympathetic ganglia
    Parasympathetic ganglia
    Parasympathetic ganglia are the autonomic ganglia of the parasympathetic nervous system. Most are small terminal ganglia or intramural ganglia, so named because they lie near or within the organs they innervate...

     of the head (Ciliary (CN III), Submandibular (CN VII), Pterygopalatine (CN VII), Otic (CN IX)
  • In or near wall of organ innervated by Vagus (CN X), Sacral nerves (S2, S3, S4))

These ganglia provide the postganglionic neurons from which innervations of target organs follows. Examples are:
  • The preganglionic parasympathetic splanchnic (visceral) nerves
  • Vagus nerve
    Vagus nerve
    The vagus nerve , also called pneumogastric nerve or cranial nerve X, is the tenth of twelve paired cranial nerves...

    , which wanders through the thorax and abdominal regions innervating, among other organs, the heart, lungs, liver and stomach

Sensory neurons

The sensory arm is made of “primary visceral sensory neurons” found in the peripheral nervous system (PNS), in “cranial sensory ganglia”: the geniculate, petrosal and nodose ganglia, appended respectively to cranial nerves VII, IX and X. These sensory neurons monitor the levels of carbon dioxide, oxygen and sugar in the blood, arterial pressure and the chemical composition of the stomach and gut content. (They also convey the sense of taste, a conscious perception). Blood oxygen and carbon dioxide are in fact directly sensed by the carotid body, a small collection of chemosensors at the bifurcation of the carotid artery, innervated by the petrosal (IXth) ganglion.
Primary sensory neurons project (synapse) onto “second order” or relay visceral sensory neurons located in the medulla oblongata, forming the nucleus of the solitary tract (nTS), that integrates all visceral information. The nTS also receives input from a nearby chemosensory center, the area postrema, that detects toxins in the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid and is essential for chemically induced vomiting or conditional taste aversion (the memory that ensures that an animal which has been poisoned by a food never touches it again). All these visceral sensory informations constantly and unconsciously modulate the activity of the motor neurons of the ANS

Motor neurons

Motor neurons of the ANS are also located in ganglia of the PNS, called “autonomic ganglia”. They belong to three categories with different effects on their target organs (see below “Function”): sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric.

Sympathetic ganglia are located in two sympathetic chains close to the spinal cord: the prevertebral and pre-aortic chains.
Parasympathetic ganglia, in contrast, are located in close proximity to the target organ: the submandibular ganglion
Submandibular ganglion
The submandibular ganglion is part of the human autonomic nervous system. It is one of four parasympathetic ganglia of the head and neck...

 close to salivary glands, paracardiac ganglia close to the heart etc...
Enteric ganglia, which as their name implies innervate the digestive tube, are located inside its walls and collectively contain as many neurons as the entire spinal cord, including local sensory neurons, motor neurons and interneurons. It is the only truly autonomous part of the ANS and the digestive tube can function surprisingly well even in isolation. For that reason the enteric nervous system
Enteric nervous system
The enteric nervous system is a subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that directly controls the gastrointestinal system in vertebrates.It is derived from neural crest.-Function:...

 has been called “the second brain”.

The activity of autonomic ganglionic neurons is modulated by “preganglionic neurons” (also called improperly but classically "visceral motoneurons") located in the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

. Preganglionic sympathetic neurons are in the spinal cord, at thoraco-lumbar levels. Preganglionic parasympathetic neurons are in the medulla oblongata (forming visceral motor nuclei: the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (dmnX), the nucleus ambiguus
Nucleus ambiguus
The nucleus ambiguus is a region of histologically disparate cells located just dorsal to the inferior olivary nucleus in the lateral portion of the upper medulla...

, and salivatory nuclei) and in the sacral spinal cord. Enteric neurons are also modulated by input from the CNS, from preganglionic neurons located, like parasympathetic ones, in the medulla oblongata (in the dmnX).

The feedback from the sensory to the motor arm of visceral reflex pathways is provided by direct or indirect connections between the nucleus of the solitary tract and visceral motoneurons.

Function

Sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions typically function in opposition to each other. But this opposition is better termed complementary in nature rather than antagonistic. For an analogy, one may think of the sympathetic division as the accelerator and the parasympathetic division as the brake. The sympathetic division typically functions in actions requiring quick responses. The parasympathetic division functions with actions that do not require immediate reaction. Consider sympathetic as "fight or flight
Fight or Flight
Fight or Flight may refer to:* Fight-or-flight response, the biological response of animals to acute stress* "Fight or Flight!" , a song off the album Aneurythm by the American hard rock band Living Syndication...

" and parasympathetic as "rest and digest".

However, many instances of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity cannot be ascribed to "fight" or "rest" situations. For example, standing up from a reclining or sitting position would entail an unsustainable drop in blood pressure if not for a compensatory increase in the arterial sympathetic tonus. Another example is the constant, second to second modulation of heart rate by sympathetic and parasympathetic influences, as a function of the respiratory cycles. More generally, these two systems should be seen as permanently modulating vital functions, in usually antagonistic fashion, to achieve homeostasis. Some typical actions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are listed below.

Sympathetic nervous system

Promotes a "fight or flight" response, corresponds with arousal and energy generation, and inhibits digestion.
  • Diverts blood flow away from the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract and skin
    Skin
    -Dermis:The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane. It also harbors many Mechanoreceptors that provide the sense of touch and heat...

     via vasoconstriction.
  • Blood flow to skeletal muscle
    Skeletal muscle
    Skeletal muscle is a form of striated muscle tissue existing under control of the somatic nervous system- i.e. it is voluntarily controlled. It is one of three major muscle types, the others being cardiac and smooth muscle...

    s and the lung
    Lung
    The lung is the essential respiration organ in many air-breathing animals, including most tetrapods, a few fish and a few snails. In mammals and the more complex life forms, the two lungs are located near the backbone on either side of the heart...

    s is enhanced (by as much as 1200% in the case of skeletal muscles).
  • Dilates bronchioles of the lung, which allows for greater alveolar oxygen exchange.
  • Increases heart rate
    Heart rate
    Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time, typically expressed as beats per minute . Heart rate can vary as the body's need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide changes, such as during exercise or sleep....

     and the contractility
    Contractility
    Myocardial contractility is the intrinsic ability of the heart to contract independent of preload and afterload. Changes in the ability to produce force during contraction result from different degrees of binding between myosin and actin filaments...

     of cardiac cells (myocytes), thereby providing a mechanism for the enhanced blood flow to skeletal muscles.
  • Dilates pupils and relaxes the ciliary muscle to the lens, allowing more light to enter the eye and far vision.
  • Provides vasodilation for the coronary vessels of the heart
    Heart
    The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

    .
  • Constricts all the intestinal sphincters and the urinary sphincter.
  • Inhibits peristalsis
    Peristalsis
    Peristalsis is a radially symmetrical contraction and relaxation of muscles which propagates in a wave down the muscular tube, in an anterograde fashion. In humans, peristalsis is found in the contraction of smooth muscles to propel contents through the digestive tract. Earthworms use a similar...

    .
  • Stimulates orgasm
    Orgasm
    Orgasm is the peak of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle, characterized by an intense sensation of pleasure...

    .

Parasympathetic nervous system

Promotes a "rest and digest" response, promotes calming of the nerves return to regular function, and enhances digestion.
  • Dilates blood vessels leading to the GI tract, increasing blood flow. This is important following the consumption of food, due to the greater metabolic demands placed on the body by the gut.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system can also constrict the bronchiolar diameter when the need for oxygen has diminished.
  • Dedicated cardiac branches of the Vagus and thoracic Spinal Accessory
    Accessory nerve
    In anatomy, the accessory nerve is a nerve that controls specific muscles of the shoulder and neck. As part of it was formerly believed to originate in the brain, it is considered a cranial nerve...

     nerves impart Parasympathetic control of the Heart
    Heart
    The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

     or Myocardium.
  • During accommodation
    Accommodation (eye)
    Accommodation is the process by which the vertebrate eye changes optical power to maintain a clear image on an object as its distance changes....

    , the parasympathetic nervous system causes constriction of the pupil and contraction of the ciliary muscle to the lens, allowing for closer vision.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates salivary gland secretion, and accelerates peristalsis
    Peristalsis
    Peristalsis is a radially symmetrical contraction and relaxation of muscles which propagates in a wave down the muscular tube, in an anterograde fashion. In humans, peristalsis is found in the contraction of smooth muscles to propel contents through the digestive tract. Earthworms use a similar...

    , so, in keeping with the rest and digest functions, appropriate PNS activity mediates digestion of food and indirectly, the absorption of nutrients.
  • Is also involved in erection of genitals, via the pelvic splanchnic nerves
    Pelvic splanchnic nerves
    Pelvic splanchnic nerves or nervi erigentes are splanchnic nerves that arise from sacral spinal nerves S2, S3, S4 to provide parasympathetic innervation to the hindgut.-Structure:...

     2–4.
  • Stimulates sexual arousal.

Neurotransmitters and pharmacology

At the effector organs, sympathetic ganglionic neurons release noradrenaline (norepinephrine), along with other cotransmitters such as ATP
Adenosine triphosphate
Adenosine-5'-triphosphate is a multifunctional nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism...

, to act on adrenergic receptors, with the exception of the sweat glands and the adrenal medulla:
  • Acetylcholine
    Acetylcholine
    The chemical compound acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system in many organisms including humans...

     is the preganglionic neurotransmitter for both divisions of the ANS, as well as the postganglionic neurotransmitter of parasympathetic neurons. Nerves that release acetylcholine are said to be cholinergic. In the parasympathetic system, ganglionic neurons use acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter, to stimulate muscarinic receptors.
  • At the adrenal cortex
    Adrenal cortex
    Situated along the perimeter of the adrenal gland, the adrenal cortex mediates the stress response through the production of mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, including aldosterone and cortisol respectively. It is also a secondary site of androgen synthesis.-Layers:Notably, the reticularis in...

    , there is no postsynaptic neuron. Instead the presynaptic neuron releases acetylcholine to act on nicotinic receptors.
  • Stimulation of the adrenal medulla
    Adrenal medulla
    The adrenal medulla is part of the adrenal gland. It is located at the center of the gland, being surrounded by the adrenal cortex. It is the innermost part of the adrenal gland, consisting of cells that secrete epinephrine , norepinephrine , and a small amount of dopamine in response to...

     releases adrenaline (epinephrine) into the bloodstream which will act on adrenoceptors, producing a widespread increase in sympathetic activity.


The following table reviews the actions of these neurotransmitters as a function of their receptors.

Heart
Heart
The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| cardiac output
Cardiac output
Cardiac output is the volume of blood being pumped by the heart, in particular by a left or right ventricle in the time interval of one minute. CO may be measured in many ways, for example dm3/min...

 
β1, (β2): increases >-
| SA node: heart rate (chronotropic
Chronotropic
Chronotropic effects are those that change the heart rate.Chronotropic drugs may change the heart rate by affecting the nerves controlling the heart, or by changing the rhythm produced by the sinoatrial node...

)
β1, (β2) : increases >-
| Atrial cardiac muscle
Cardiac muscle
Cardiac muscle is a type of involuntary striated muscle found in the walls and histologic foundation of the heart, specifically the myocardium. Cardiac muscle is one of three major types of muscle, the others being skeletal and smooth muscle...

: contractility (inotropic)
β1, (β2): increases >-
| at AV node 
β1:
increases conduction
Electrical conduction system of the heart
The normal intrinsic electrical conduction of the heart allows electrical propagation to be transmitted from the Sinoatrial Node through both atria and forward to the Atrioventricular Node. Normal/baseline physiology allows further propagation from the AV node to the ventricle or Purkinje Fibers...

 
increases cardiac muscle automaticity 
decreases conduction
Atrioventricular block
Atrioventricular block
An atrioventricular block involves the impairment of the conduction between the atria and ventricles of the heart.The causes of pathological AV block are varied and include ischaemia, infarction, fibrosis or drugs. Certain AV blocks can also be found as normal variants, such as in athletes or...

 
>-
| Ventricular
Ventricle
Ventricle may refer to:* Ventricle , the pumping chambers of the heart* Ventricular system in the brain* Ventricle of the larynx, a structure in the larynx* Stomach of the gastrointestinal tract...

 cardiac muscle
Cardiac muscle
Cardiac muscle is a type of involuntary striated muscle found in the walls and histologic foundation of the heart, specifically the myocardium. Cardiac muscle is one of three major types of muscle, the others being skeletal and smooth muscle...

 
β1, (β2):
increases contractility (inotropic)
increases cardiac muscle automaticity 

Blood vessels

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| vascular smooth muscle
Vascular smooth muscle
Vascular smooth muscle refers to the particular type of smooth muscle found within, and composing the majority of the wall of blood vessels.Vascular smooth muscle contracts or relaxes to both change the volume of blood vessels and the local blood pressure, a mechanism that is responsible for the...

 in general
α1: contracts; β2: relaxes >-
| renal artery
Renal artery
The renal arteries normally arise off the side of the abdominal aorta, immediately below the superior mesenteric artery, and supply the kidneys with blood. Each is directed across the crus of the diaphragm, so as to form nearly a right angle with the aorta....

 
α1: constricts >-
| larger coronary arteries 
α1 and α2: constricts >-
| smaller coronary arteries 
β2:dilates >-
| arteries to viscera 
α: constricts >-
| arteries to skin
Skin
-Dermis:The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane. It also harbors many Mechanoreceptors that provide the sense of touch and heat...

 
α: constricts >-
| arteries to brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

 
α1: constricts >-
| arteries to erectile tissue
Erectile tissue
Erectile tissue is tissue in the body that can become erect, usually by becoming engorged with blood.-Erectile tissue in the clitoris and penis:...

 
α1: constricts >-
| arteries to salivary gland
Salivary gland
The salivary glands in mammals are exocrine glands, glands with ducts, that produce saliva. They also secrete amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into maltose...

s
α: constricts >-
| hepatic artery
Hepatic artery
Hepatic artery can refer to:* Common hepatic artery * Hepatic artery proper...

 
β2: dilates >-
| arteries to skeletal muscle
Skeletal muscle
Skeletal muscle is a form of striated muscle tissue existing under control of the somatic nervous system- i.e. it is voluntarily controlled. It is one of three major muscle types, the others being cardiac and smooth muscle...

 
β2: dilates >-
| Vein
Vein
In the circulatory system, veins are blood vessels that carry blood towards the heart. Most veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart; exceptions are the pulmonary and umbilical veins, both of which carry oxygenated blood to the heart...

s
α1 and α2 : constricts
β2: dilates

Other

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| platelets 
α2: aggregates >-
| mast cells - histamine
Histamine
Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound involved in local immune responses as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter. Histamine triggers the inflammatory response. As part of an immune response to foreign pathogens, histamine is produced by...

 
β2: inhibits

Respiratory system
Respiratory system
The respiratory system is the anatomical system of an organism that introduces respiratory gases to the interior and performs gas exchange. In humans and other mammals, the anatomical features of the respiratory system include airways, lungs, and the respiratory muscles...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| smooth muscles of bronchioles 
β2: relaxes (major contribution)
α1
Alpha-1 adrenergic receptor
The alpha-1 adrenergic receptor is a G protein-coupled receptor associated with the Gq heterotrimeric G-protein. It consists of three highly homologous subtypes, including α1A-, α1B-, and α1D-adrenergic...

: contracts (minor contribution)


The bronchioles have no sympathetic innervation, but are instead affected by circulating adrenaline

Nervous system
Nervous system
The nervous system is an organ system containing a network of specialized cells called neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals between different parts of its body. In most animals the nervous system consists of two parts, central and peripheral. The central nervous...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| Pupil dilator muscle 
α1: Contracts
(causes mydriasis
Mydriasis
Mydriasis is a dilation of the pupil due to disease, trauma or the use of drugs. Normally, the pupil dilates in the dark and constricts in the light to respectively improve vividity at night and to protect the retina from sunlight damage during the day...

)
>-
| Iris sphincter muscle
Iris sphincter muscle
The iris sphincter muscle is a muscle in the part of the eye called the iris...

 
- (causes miosis
Miosis
Miosis is the constriction of the pupil of the eye to two millimeters or less...

)
>-
| Ciliary muscle
Ciliary muscle
The ciliary muscle is a ring of striated smooth muscle in the eye's middle layer that controls accommodation for viewing objects at varying distances and regulates the flow of aqueous humour into Schlemm's canal. It changes the shape of the lens within the eye not the size of the pupil which is...

 
β2: relaxes
(causes long-range focus)

Digestive system

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| salivary glands: secretions
β: stimulates viscous, amylase
Amylase
Amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in human saliva, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Food that contains much starch but little sugar, such as rice and potato, taste slightly sweet as they are chewed because amylase turns...

 secretions
α1: stimulates potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 secretions
>-
| lacrimal glands (tears)
β: stimulates protein secretion >-
| juxtaglomerular apparatus
Juxtaglomerular apparatus
The juxtaglomerular apparatus is a microscopic structure in the kidney, which regulates the function of each nephron. The juxtaglomerular apparatus is named for its proximity to the glomerulus: it is found between the vascular pole of the renal corpuscle and the returning distal convoluted tubule...

 of kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 
β1: renin
Renin
Renin , also known as an angiotensinogenase, is an enzyme that participates in the body's renin-angiotensin system -- also known as the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone Axis -- that mediates extracellular volume , and arterial vasoconstriction...

 secretion
>-
| parietal cells 
--- Gastric acid
Gastric acid
Gastric acid is a digestive fluid, formed in the stomach. It has a pH of 1 to 2 and is composed of hydrochloric acid , and large quantities of potassium chloride and sodium chloride...

 secretion
>-
| liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 
α1, β2: glycogenolysis
Glycogenolysis
Glycogenolysis is the conversion of glycogen polymers to glucose monomers. Glycogen is catabolized by removal of a glucose monomer through cleavage with inorganic phosphate to produce glucose-1-phosphate...

, gluconeogenesis
Gluconeogenesis
Gluconeogenesis is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as lactate, glycerol, and glucogenic amino acids....

 
>-
| adipose cells
β1, β3: stimulates lipolysis
Lipolysis
Lipolysis is the breakdown of lipids and involves the hydrolysis of triglycerides into free fatty acids followed by further degradation into acetyl units by beta oxidation. The process produces Ketones, which are found in large quantities in ketosis, a metabolic state that occurs when the liver...

 
>-
| GI tract (smooth muscle
Smooth muscle
Smooth muscle is an involuntary non-striated muscle. It is divided into two sub-groups; the single-unit and multiunit smooth muscle. Within single-unit smooth muscle tissues, the autonomic nervous system innervates a single cell within a sheet or bundle and the action potential is propagated by...

) motility
α1, α2, β2: decreases >-
| sphincters of GI tract 
α1, α2, β2: contracts >-
| glands of GI tract 
no effect

Endocrine system
Endocrine system
In physiology, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its chemicals using ducts. It derives from the Greek words "endo"...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| pancreas
Pancreas
The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist...

 (islets
Islets of Langerhans
The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine cells. Discovered in 1869 by German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans at the age of 22, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1 to 2% of the mass of the pancreas...

)
α2: decreases insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 secretion from beta cell
Beta cell
Beta cells are a type of cell in the pancreas located in the so-called islets of Langerhans. They make up 65-80% of the cells in the islets.-Function:...

s, increases glucagon
Glucagon
Glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, raises blood glucose levels. Its effect is opposite that of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is...

 secretion from alpha cell
Alpha cell
Alpha cells are endocrine cells in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas. They make up 33-46% of the human islet cells and are responsible for synthesizing and secreting the peptide hormone glucagon, which elevates the glucose levels in the blood....

s
>-
| adrenal medulla
Adrenal medulla
The adrenal medulla is part of the adrenal gland. It is located at the center of the gland, being surrounded by the adrenal cortex. It is the innermost part of the adrenal gland, consisting of cells that secrete epinephrine , norepinephrine , and a small amount of dopamine in response to...

 
N
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, or nAChRs, are cholinergic receptors that form ligand-gated ion channels in the plasma membranes of certain neurons and on the postsynaptic side of the neuromuscular junction...

 (nicotinic ACh
Acetylcholine
The chemical compound acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system in many organisms including humans...

 receptor): secretes epinephrine
Epinephrine
Epinephrine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels, dilates air passages and participates in the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. In chemical terms, adrenaline is one of a group of monoamines called the catecholamines...

 and norepinephrine
Norepinephrine
Norepinephrine is the US name for noradrenaline , a catecholamine with multiple roles including as a hormone and a neurotransmitter...

 

Urinary system
Urinary system
The urinary system is the organ system that produces, stores, and eliminates urine. In humans it includes two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder and the urethra.-Kidney:...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| Detrusor urinae muscle‎ of bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

 wall
β2: relaxes >-
| internal urethral sphincter
Internal sphincter muscle of urethra
The internal sphincter muscle of urethra is a urethral sphincter muscle which constricts the internal urethral orifice. It is the junction of the urethra with the urinary bladder. The muscle is made of smooth muscle, so therefore it is under involuntary control. It is kept tonically contracted by...

 
α1: contracts

Reproductive system
Reproductive system
The reproductive system or genital system is a system of organs within an organism which work together for the purpose of reproduction. Many non-living substances such as fluids, hormones, and pheromones are also important accessories to the reproductive system. Unlike most organ systems, the sexes...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
>-
| uterus
Uterus
The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals including humans. One end, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the other is connected to one or both fallopian tubes, depending on the species...

 
α1: contracts (pregnant)
β2: relaxes (non-pregnant)
>-
| genitalia 
α1: contracts (ejaculation
Ejaculation
Ejaculation is the ejecting of semen from the male reproductory tract, and is usually accompanied by orgasm. It is usually the final stage and natural objective of male sexual stimulation, and an essential component of natural conception. In rare cases ejaculation occurs because of prostatic disease...

)

Integumentary system
Integumentary system
The integumentary system is the organ system that protects the body from damage, comprising the skin and its appendages...

|-
| Target >
Sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

(muscarinic and adrenergic
Adrenergic
An adrenergic agent is a drug, or other substance, which has effects similar to, or the same as, epinephrine . Thus, it is a kind of sympathomimetic agent...

)
Parasympathetic
>-
| sweat gland
Sweat gland
Sweat glands, or sudoriferous glands, are small tubular structures of the skin that produce sweat. There are two kinds of sweat glands:...

 secretions
M: stimulates (major contribution); α1: stimulates (minor contribution) >-
| arrector pili
α1: stimulates

External links

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