Parasympathetic innervation

Parasympathetic nervous innervation is supplied by both the vagus nerve and the pelvic nerve. The pattern of parasympathetic innervation is consistent with its function. The vagus nerve innervates the upper portions of the gastrointestinal tract (upper third of oesophagus, wall of stomach, small intestine and ascending colon), whilst the pelvic nerve innervates the lower portions of the system (striated muscle of external anal canal and walls of the transverse, descending and sigmoid colons).

Postganglionic neurons of the parasympathetic nervous system are classified as either cholinergic or peptidergic. Cholinergic neurons release acetylcholine as the main neurotransmitter and peptidergic neurons release one of several peptides, including VIP.

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