Introduction to Neurotransmitter System
The neurotransmitter is a chemical substance released by the neuron to a variety of cells. Neurotransmitters can trigger the activation of many responses in target cells, such as neural cells, organs, as well as muscles. Meanwhile, neurotransmitter has been regarded as a messenger in the brain and plays an important role in regulating the communication between neurons and brain cells. Till now, different types of neurotransmitters, like modulatory neurotransmitters, excitatory neurotransmitters, as well as inhibitory neurotransmitters, have been identified and confirmed in the human nervous system. Normally, excitatory neurotransmitters can activate receptors on the postsynaptic membrane and enhance action potential, while inhibitory neurotransmitters are to block action potential. Furthermore, pilot studies have indicated that a variety of disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, are believed to be caused by the dysfunction of specific neurotransmitters.
Fig.1 The neurochemical interaction matrix of six neurotransmitter systems in the human brain. (Qi, 2014)
Neurotransmitter System and Neuro Cells
The nervous system is essential for delivering chemical messages and controlling human behaviors. At the same time, the construction of neural networks for information processing within and between various cells further provides the nervous system with extraordinary analytical capabilities. In general, the main cells involved in information processing are neurons. Many cell types are now widely used as neurons, depending on their shape, location, as well as chemical property. Besides, the various chemicals that send messages between neurons are called neurotransmitters. Up to now, a large number of neurotransmitters, including lipids (2-AG), gases (NO), peptides (PYY), purines (adenosine), and monoamines, have been reported for revealing the complex signaling pathways in the brain.
In addition, using neurotransmitter systems to decode information of neuron cell interactions can change the capacities of information processing and computing power of the brain. As a result, neurotransmitter-associated proteins and their receptors, such as glutamate and ATP, or 5-HT3 receptor, are involved in neurotransmitter synthesis have been considered as potential targets for developing novel drugs to treat certain neurologic disorders.
Neurotransmitter System and Function
The neurotransmitter system is an endogenous chemical information transmission system of the human body that can deliver signals among different neurons and many target cells. The signal pathways of neurotransmitter systems can be varied: from one neuron to another, from different points on a synapse, or from one neuron to different cells or tissues. The binding of neurotransmitters to postsynaptic neurons leads to excitation or inhibition, depending on what is released and the type of receptor it binds to. Furthermore, recent studies have demonstrated that the neurotransmitter system is also involved in the regulation of a large number of neurons. For instance, the neurotransmitter system can induce a range of neuroregulatory effects on the structure of neurons, from neuronal outgrowth, dendrite pruning to cell survival.
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- Qi, Z.; et al. A heuristic model of alcohol dependence. PloS one. 2014, 9(3): e92221.