The superior cervical sympathetic ganglion of the rat kept in vitro in a bicarbonate-buffered Krebs' solution retains its capacity for synaptic transmission and axonal conduction during more than 36 hr. After glucose withdrawal, synaptic transmission is lost in 2½ hr and this loss is irreversible; on the other hand, axonal conduction can still be measured on the postganglionic nerve for more than 24 hr after glucose deprivation. Electrophysiological measurements as well as electron microscope studies revealed specific changes at the level of the presynaptic terminal processes, while the ganglion cells and the satellite cells remained relatively unaltered. The presynaptic lesion due to lack of glucose can be prevented by keeping the preparation in vitro at 6°C. This strongly suggests that this lesion results from a major disturbance of the metabolism of the presynaptic fibers.

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