Biology:Table of neurotransmitter actions in the ANS

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Circulatory system


Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
cardiac output β1, (β2): increases M2: decreases
SA node: heart rate (chronotropic) β1, (β2):[1] increases M2: decreases
Atrial cardiac muscle: contractility (inotropic) β1, (β2):[1] increases M2: decreases
at AV node β1:
increases conduction
increases cardiac muscle automaticity[1]
decreases conduction
Atrioventricular block[1]
Ventricular cardiac muscle β1, (β2):
increases contractility (inotropic)
increases cardiac muscle automaticity[1]

Blood vessels

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
vascular smooth muscle in general α1:[2] contracts; β2:[2] relaxes M3: relaxes[1]
renal artery α1:[3] constricts ---
larger coronary arteries α1 and α2:[4] constricts[1] ---
smaller coronary arteries β2: dilates[5] ---
arteries to viscera α: constricts ---
arteries to skin α: constricts ---
arteries to brain α1:[6] constricts[1] ---
arteries to erectile tissue α1:[7] constricts M3: dilates
arteries to salivary glands α: constricts M3: dilates
hepatic artery β2: dilates ---
arteries to skeletal muscle β2: dilates ---
Veins α1 and α2:[8] constricts
β2: dilates


Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
platelets α2: aggregates ---
mast cells - histamine β2: inhibits ---

Respiratory system

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
smooth muscles of bronchioles* β2:[2] relaxes (major contribution)
α1: contracts (minor contribution)
M3:[2] contracts

The bronchioles have no sympathetic innervation, but are instead affected by circulating adrenaline[1]

Visual system

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
Pupil dilator muscle α1: Dilates
(causes mydriasis)
Iris sphincter muscle - M3: contracts
(causes miosis)
Ciliary muscle β2: relaxes
(causes long-range focus)
M3: contracts
(causes short-range focus)

Digestive system

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
salivary glands: secretions β: stimulates viscous, amylase secretions
α1: stimulates potassium secretions
M3: stimulates watery secretions
lacrimal glands (tears) β: stimulates protein secretion[9] secretion of tears by stimulating muscarinic receptors (M3)
juxtaglomerular apparatus of kidney β1:[2] renin secretion ---
parietal cells --- M1: Gastric acid secretion
liver α1, β2: glycogenolysis, gluconeogenesis ---
adipose cells β1,[2] β3: stimulates lipolysis ---
GI tract (smooth muscle) motility α1, α2,[10] β2: decreases M3, (M1):[1] increases
sphincters of GI tract α1,[2] α2,[1] β2: contracts M3:[2] relaxes
glands of GI tract no effect[1] M3: secretes

Endocrine system

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
pancreas (islets) α2: decreases insulin secretion from beta cells, increases glucagon secretion from alpha cells M3:[11][12] increases secretion of both insulin and glucagon.[11][12]
adrenal medulla N (nicotinic ACh receptor): secretes epinephrine and norepinephrine ---

Urinary system

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
Detrusor urinae muscle of bladder wall β2,[2] β3:[13] relaxes M3:[2] contracts
internal urethral sphincter α1:[2] contracts M3:[2] relaxes

Reproductive system

Target Sympathetic (adrenergic) Parasympathetic (muscarinic)
uterus α1: contracts (pregnant[1])
β2: relaxes (non-pregnant[1])
genitalia α1: contracts (ejaculation) M3: erection

Integumentary system

Target Sympathetic (muscarinic and adrenergic) Parasympathetic
sweat gland secretions α1: stimulates (minor contribution) M:[2] stimulates (major contribution)
arrector pili α1: stimulates ---


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 H. P. Rang; M. Maureen Dale (2003). H. P. Rang. ed. Pharmacology 5th ed.. Churchill Livingstone. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-443-07145-4. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Costanzo, Linda S. (2007). Physiology. Hagerstwon, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7817-7311-9. 
  3. Schmitz, JM; Graham, RM; Sagalowsky, A; Pettinger, WA (1981). "Renal alpha-1 and alpha-2 adrenergic receptors: Biochemical and pharmacological correlations". The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 219 (2): 400–6. PMID 6270306. 
  4. Woodman, OL; Vatner, SF (1987). "Coronary vasoconstriction mediated by alpha 1- and alpha 2-adrenoceptors in conscious dogs". The American Journal of Physiology 253 (2 Pt 2): H388–93. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.1987.253.2.H388. PMID 2887122. 
  5. Rang, H. P. (2003). Pharmacology. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-443-07145-4. 
  6. Circulation & Lung Physiology I M.A.S.T.E.R. Learning Program, UC Davis School of Medicine
  7. Morton, J S; Daly, C J; Jackson, V M; McGrath, J C (2009). "Α1A-Adrenoceptors mediate contractions to phenylephrine in rabbit penile arteries". British Journal of Pharmacology 150 (1): 112–20. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706956. PMID 17115072. 
  8. Elliott, J. (1997). "Alpha-adrenoceptors in equine digital veins: Evidence for the presence of both alpha1 and alpha2-receptors mediating vasoconstriction". Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 20 (4): 308–17. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2885.1997.00078.x. PMID 9280371. 
  9. Mauduit, P; Herman, G; Rossignol, B (1984). "Protein secretion induced by isoproterenol or pentoxifylline in lacrimal gland: Ca2+ effects". The American Journal of Physiology 246 (1 Pt 1): C37–44. doi:10.1152/ajpcell.1984.246.1.C37. PMID 6320658. 
  10. Sagrada, A; Fargeas, M J; Bueno, L (1987). "Involvement of alpha-1 and alpha-2 adrenoceptors in the postlaparotomy intestinal motor disturbances in the rat". Gut 28 (8): 955–9. doi:10.1136/gut.28.8.955. PMID 2889649. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Poretsky, Leonid (2010). "Parasympathetic Nerves". Principles of diabetes mellitu. New York: Springer. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-387-09840-1. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Duttaroy, A.; Zimliki, C. L.; Gautam, D.; Cui, Y.; Mears, D.; Wess, J. (2004). "Muscarinic Stimulation of Pancreatic Insulin and Glucagon Release is Abolished in M3 Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor-Deficient Mice". Diabetes 53 (7): 1714–20. doi:10.2337/diabetes.53.7.1714. PMID 15220195. 
  13. Kullmann, F. A.; Limberg, B. J.; Artim, D. E.; Shah, M.; Downs, T. R.; Contract, D.; Wos, J.; Rosenbaum, J. S. et al. (2009). "Effects of 3-Adrenergic Receptor Activation on Rat Urinary Bladder Hyperactivity Induced by Ovariectomy". Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 330 (3): 704–17. doi:10.1124/jpet.109.155010. PMID 19515967.