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January 1937


Arch NeurPsych. 1937;37(1):142-153. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1937.02260130152010

The first intimation of the chemical mediation of nerve impulses was given by Elliott1 (1905). He observed that the structures innervated by sympathetic nerves responded in a characteristic manner to epinephrine long after these nerves had been cut and had undergone degeneration. If a structure, smooth muscle, for example, contracted in response to sympathetic impulses it contracted in response to epinephrine, and if sympathetic impulses caused relaxation, the response to epinephrine also was relaxation. It was obvious that epinephrine did not affect any part of the peripheral nerves, for they had undergone degeneration. On the basis of these observations Elliott suggested that the sympathtetic nerve impulse arriving at a smooth muscle cell might liberate epinephrine in the cell and that this epinephrine acts as a chemical mediator in the process of stimulation. This would explain the manner in which epinephrine from the adrenal gland mimics the action of sympathetic