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Imaging of cardiac adrenergic innervation
  1. P G Camici
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Paolo Camici, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK;

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Development of radioactive tracers to probe both pre- and postsynaptic sympathetic function has made possible a more widespread non-invasive assessment of the sympathetic nervous system

Cardiac myocytes and the coronary circulation are innervated by both sympathetic and parasympathetic fibres which constitute the autonomic nervous system.1,2 The autonomic outflow is controlled by regulatory centres in the midbrain, hypothalamus, pons, and medulla which integrate inputs from other brain areas as well as afferent stimuli from the periphery. The efferent signals follow descending pathways in the lateral funiculus of the spinal cord that terminate on cell bodies in the intermediolateral and intermediomedial columns. Sympathetic fibres leave the spinal cord at T1–L2-3. These myelinated preganglionic fibres synapse in the paravertebral ganglia while small unmyelinated postganglionic fibres connect with body organs.3 Sympathetic innervation to the heart is provided by fibres originating from a series of ganglia which constitute the cardiac plexus. These fibres branch and terminate as sympathetic nerve endings in atrial and ventricular tissue. The main neurotransmitter of the sympathetic system is noradrenaline (norepinephrine) that, after its release by sympathetic nerve terminals, can bind to a series of different postsynaptic receptors (α and β) whose activation determine the …

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