310_6_notes - Lecture #6 Outline Pharmaceutical Sciences...

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Lecture #6 Outline Pharmaceutical Sciences 310 Introduction to Pharmacology: Drugs and Their Actions Lecture #6: Neurotransmitters: chemical messengers of the brain lecturer: Arash Bashirullah The goal of this lecture is to overview the major classes of neurotransmitters. We will describe their distribution and function in the brain, as well as their biosynthetic and degradation pathways. We will also cover how several common drugs interfere with these neurotransmitter pathways. This material will provide a foundation to understand how modulating neurotransmitter signaling can alter brain function. Section I: NEUROTRANSMITTERS: AN OVERVIEW 1.- what are neurotransmitters? Neurotransmitters are small molecules used by neurons to transmit signals across the synaptic cleft. Most neurotransmitters are not distributed homogeneously throughout the nervous system. Instead, many neurotransmitters are associated with neurons that have specific functions. This characteristic links certain neurotransmitters with certain functions of the brain in both normal and diseased states. There are many small molecules in the brain playing different functions, but only a few of these function as neurotransmitters. Several criteria need to be fulfilled for a small molecule to be considered a neurotransmitter: - the neurotransmitter needs to be synthesized in neurons (i.e., the biosynthetic enzymes for building it must be present in neurons) - the neurotransmitter must be present in vesicles at the presynaptic terminal and released into the synaptic cleft after an action potential - the exogenous application of the neurotransmitter must mimic the effect (on the postsynaptic neuron) of the endogenous chemical signal - there must be specific mechanisms at the synaptic cleft for terminating the signal initiated by neurotransmitter release 2.- classes of neurotransmitters Neurotransmitters can be subdivided based on their chemical nature into two major classes: small molecules and peptides. a) Small molecules: There are several “classical” low-molecular weight
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This note was uploaded on 03/25/2010 for the course PHARM 310 taught by Professor Marker during the Spring '10 term at Wisconsin.

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310_6_notes - Lecture #6 Outline Pharmaceutical Sciences...

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