What are neurotransmitters and what are they for? (2023)

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body. They are used by the nervous system to help neurons or nerve cells communicate with each other. They also help neurons relay signals to other target cells throughout the body.

What are neurotransmitters and what are they for? (1)

How they work

Neuronsit functions as a kind of messaging system. They have electrical signals running along their axon, which is the thin wire that connects the main part of the cell to other neurons. After the electric signal arrivessynapse, which is a small hole at the end of the stem, is then converted into a chemical signal.

This chemical signal is released from the neuron into a vesicle or sac across the synapse, turning into a neurotransmitter and carrying the signal to the receiving neuron. This prompts the recipient to a specific reaction in order to interpret the message being sent.

Receptors are designed to regulate the release of neurotransmitters or receive the signal sent. Receptors are located between neurons and allow the exchange of information. This process is called neurotransmission.

When they did their job

Once the neurotransmitter has done its job, it is no longer needed. There are three ways to interrupt communication with the neurotransmitter.

The first involves a process called degradation. This process occurs when an enzyme enters and changes the composition of the neurotransmitter. When this happens, the receptor no longer recognizes the neurotransmitter and therefore does not interact with it.

The second process is called diffusion as the neurotransmitter moves away from the receptor. The third is the reuptake process that occurs when a neuron that has released a neurotransmitter captures it and takes it back to the axon.


There are over 100 types of neurotransmitters, but it can be difficult to determine whether something qualifies as a neurotransmitter or not.This is because it is not easy to see what chemical is in the sacs released by neurons.

There are some specific guidelines that researchers use to help them determine which molecules are neurotransmitters. First, the cell must contain a chemical that is released in a standard or appropriate amount when stimulated in a certain way.

The chemical must also be released by a specific presynaptic neuron and then properly bind to the receptors of the postsynaptic neuron. Once neurons send and receive a message, the neurotransmitter itself has to go through one of the removal processes.

Of all the neurotransmitters, some stand out more than others because they are better known or because there are more of them. For example, certain neurotransmitters are critical to the clinical conditions of various diseases. These neurotransmitters include:

  • Acetylocholina: This neurotransmitter stimulates muscles to contract and plays an important role in various cognitive functions such as memory. It is also related toAlzheimer's disease.
  • dopamine:This is called the feel-good chemical, and it plays an important roleParkinson's disease.
  • glutamate: It is the most abundant amino acid in the brain and can lead to cell death due to its ability to trigger a toxic response in cells.
  • GABA(gamma-aminobutyric acid): It is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and can also act as a stress reducer.
  • serotonin: This is a well-known neurotransmitter found in large amounts in the digestive system.It is usually associated with depression.

These neurotransmitters fall into the category of how they cause a receptor response, namely:

  • Stimulus:When the neurotransmitter causes this response, the receiving neuron produces a new electrical signal known as an action potential or nerve impulse. Its task is to transmit a specific message or call actions from other cells. For example, if you touch something hot, there will be neurotransmission that will alert you to the sensation of heat through an excitatory response.glutamateis an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • Prohibitive:This response helps to stop a certain reaction from other cells in the body. It prevents the excitation reaction. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
  • Regulator:Modulatory responses can modulate more than one neuron after neurotransmission, meaning they can send the same message to several neurons simultaneously. They work slower than other reactions. Dopamine and serotonin are regulatory neurotransmitters.


This type of neurotransmitter is common in the central nervous systemperipheral nervous system. It works as a neuromodulator because it can send signals to many receptors simultaneously. It plays a key role in cognitive processes, learning, attention and memory.

Acetylcholine can also cause other types of feelings and emotions, such as motivation and excitement.It also plays an important role in voluntary muscle movement. This means that when you tell your body to get up and walk around, acetylcholine is part of this signaling process.

Central and peripheral nervous system

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord and controls most of the functions of the body and mind. The peripheral nervous system is the part of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord, including the cranial nerves, spinal nerves, peripheral nerves, and neuromuscular junctions. The peripheral nervous system enables the brain and spinal cord to receive and send messages to other parts of the body.

Amino acids

Amino acids are essential for neurotransmission. This is because many amino acids act as neurotransmitters. Certain other amino acids also play a role in the production of certain neurotransmitters. They can regulate neurotransmission and provide the body with enough essential neurotransmitters needed for proper physical and mental health.

For example, serotonin, which helps regulate mood, relies heavily on the amino acid tryptophan. Without tryptophan, serotonin levels can drop, which can lead to depression.

Gas relays

Gas transmitters are neurotransmitters made up of small gas molecules. The three carrier gases include nitric oxide, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. They are involved in signaling processes and play a vital role in synaptic plasticity, which is the ability of a synapse to become weaker or stronger over time.

In synapses that become weaker, gas carriers also help restore their plasticity. Research shows that positive or negative changes in neurotransmitters can lead to mental health conditions.


Some neurotransmitters are monoamines, i.e. compounds with only one amino group in the molecule. Examples of neurotransmitters that fall into this category include dopamine,norepinephrine,epinefrynaand serotonin. They may play a role in the development of neurological syndromes.

NMDA receptors and their involvement in diseases


Somepeptidesor hormones may act as neurotransmitters. The action of peptides depends on their amino acid sequence. Peptides that can act as neurotransmitters are often called neuropeptides and are slower acting than standard neurotransmitters. This means they can trigger a response that leads to more neurotransmitter action. Some examples of neuropeptides include B-endorphin and oxytocin.

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocinit is a hormone, but it can act as a neurotransmitter and play a role in feelings of love, bonding, and relieving pain and stress.


Purines are organic compounds that can be found in the body and in some foods. They are formed when DNA breaks down and turns into uric acid in the blood.

When purines function as neurotransmitters, they play a role in various systemic reactions in the body. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a purine that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous system. ATP plays a role in signaling in betweenglial cellsthat keep the body in balance.

Association between ATP and low energy in fibromyalgia and CFS


Neurotransmitters are essential for the health of the body and mind. Low levels of any type of neurotransmitter can lead to the development of various diseases. Too many neurotransmitters can also pose the same risk. For example, if there is not enough of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, it can lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Increased levels of pain-inhibiting neurotransmitters and decreased levels of pain-inhibiting neurotransmitters are associated with:fibromyalgia,a condition characterized by widespread pain. An imbalance between inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters is believed to play a role in the development and progression of this disease.

Excess serotonin in the body can be life threatening and lead to a condition calledserotonin syndrome. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include:

  • Bow
  • Worry
  • Worry
  • Earthquake vibrations
  • Muscle stiffness
  • High blood pressure
  • hyperthermia(high body temperature)
  • Red leather
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Rapid breathing

In other cases, the receptors can become sensitive to neurotransmitters. When this happens, fewer neurotransmitters can trigger a greater response. It can occur in people taking medicines that interact with certain neurotransmitter receptors, such as antidepressants.


Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that help nerve cells communicate with each other. These include serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and acetylcholine. Neurotransmitters perform a variety of functions, including regulating appetite, sleep-wake cycles, and mood. Low levels of any neurotransmitter can lead to problems including fibromyalgia and Alzheimer's disease.

Frequently asked questions

  • What two neurotransmitters play a role in appetite suppression?

    Two neurotransmitters that play a role in appetite control are serotonin and catecholamine.

    Serotonin can help suppress appetite by activating certain neurons and receptors. It helps to reduce the feeling of hunger while blocking specific neurons that cause an increase in appetite.

    Catecholamines also influence hunger signals in the body by affecting neurons in the brain that play a role in the feeling of hunger and satiety.

  • How do drugs affect neurotransmitters?

    Drugs can block the ability of neurons to send, receive and process signals. In some cases, drugs like heroin and marijuana can even act as neurotransmitters because they mimic their chemical structure. When these drugs are in the body and are considered neurotransmitters, they can activate neurons.

  • How does alcohol affect neurotransmitters?

    Alcohol can affect glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. Alcohol consumption inhibits the release of glutamate. This then slows down the signaling process in the brain. Alcohol can also affect serotonin, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.


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