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Publication Detail
The sacral autonomic outflow is sympathetic
Abstract
Copyright © 2016 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved.A kinship between cranial and pelvic visceral nerves of vertebrates has been accepted for a century. Accordingly, sacral preganglionic neurons are considered parasympathetic, as are their targets in the pelvic ganglia that prominently control rectal, bladder, and genital functions. Here, we uncover 15 phenotypic and ontogenetic features that distinguish pre- and postganglionic neurons of the cranial parasympathetic outflow from those of the thoracolumbar sympathetic outflow in mice. By every single one, the sacral outflow is indistinguishable from the thoracolumbar outflow. Thus, the parasympathetic nervous system receives input from cranial nerves exclusively and the sympathetic nervous system from spinal nerves, thoracic to sacral inclusively. This simplified, bipartite architecture offers a new framework to understand pelvic neurophysiology as well as development and evolution of the autonomic nervous system.
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