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 Autonomic control 

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Autonomic neuroscience is concerned with the study of the control of the body's organs. The role of the autonomic nervous system is to regulate and co-ordinate activities to ensure homeostasis so that we can cope with ever-changing demands in our daily lives.

Continuing research in autonomic neuroscience is required as we still do not fully understand the chemical coding of the autonomic neurones and the interaction of the nervous pathways involved in the normal control of bodily functions. These may be altered in a range of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and after surgery or trauma. We need to understand the interactions of the autonomic nervous system with the immune, vascular and secretory systems.

Nerve cells communicate through a series of chemical messengers (transmitters) that are released by nerve cells. Aside from classical transmitters noradrenaline or acetylcholine, other transmitters have emerged over the last 20 years. The purine adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is now recognised as one of several further chemical messengers. Purines provide signals to cells by binding to specific receptors (purinoceptors) located on the surface of the cells. Purinoceptors have been found not only in the nervous system itself but also within the organs innervated by the autonomic nervous system; when activated, the receptors elicit cellular changes and alter the action of the organs or the nerves.

This page last modified 18 December, 2008 by [Content Provider]

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