School of Medicine

University of Washington School of Medicine
Cardiovascular & Autonomic Pharmacology

UW Restricted



The Cardiovascular & Autonomic Pharmacology modules were created to facilitate learning in the area generally known as autonomic pharmacology by Medical Students at the University of Washington enrolled in Human Biology 543 (Principles of Pharmacology I). The information in the modules may be useful for a number of students who need to master the basic concepts of the autonomic nervous system and some of its effects on the cardiovascular system. Thus, medical, pharmacy and graduate students from all over the world are invited to use the web site. Naturally, feedback is always welcome (

Material on this website has been developed from information available in a number of standard textbooks of pharmacology, including Goodman and Gilman's, The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, also known as 'G&G'. Students will find it helpful to have access to G&G other textbook appropriate for their particular needs.

There are two modules in this website: the Structure Function and the Virtual Dog Laboratory. They are best approached in that sequence, as it is important to understand the structure of autonomic nervous system and the general effects of the drugs in question before moving on to their simulated interactions.

The Structure Function

The structure function pathway presents information beginning at a gross anatomical level and proceeds to a molecular level while considering the effects, mechanisms and sites of action of the peripheral efferent nervous system on various organs cells, receptors, etc. This pathway provides students an opportunity to become familiar with the major features of the anatomy and physiology of the autonomic nervous system, and its receptors and neurotransmitters. It also provides sites and mechanisms of action of prototype drugs that affect neurotransmitter synthesis, storage, release, etc.

The Virtual Lab

The Virtual Dog Laboratory pathway presents information in the context of a simulated 'dog lab'. Various test drugs or procedures are administered to an anesthetized, 'virtual dog' and blood pressure (BP) responses are presented. In this way, you may observe the effects of certain drugs on the cardiovascular system. You may then choose to 'pretreat' a series of virtual dogs with a number of different drugs and see how this influences the responses to the test drugs or procedures. Analysis of the pattern of BP responses provides a wealth of information on the sites and mechanisms of a number of different drugs. Self evaluation is an additional feature of the Virtual Dog Laboratory in which the student is presented with a series of virtual dogs that have been pretreated with 'unknown' drugs. The challenge is to figure out what pretreatment drugs have been given by using the test drugs.