Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are a group of ionotropic receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous systems. They are integral to the normal function of the neuromuscular junction, and are also involved in many neurological processes, including learning, attention, and addiction. nAChRs are named for their affinity for nicotine - a potent agonist of these receptor complexes. These receptors are composed of five subunits, arranged around a central pore through which ions flow when activated. There are multiple subtypes of nAChR, each with different sensitivity to agonists and antagonists, and each with their own distribution across the nervous system. Research into the function of nAChRs has revealed their potential as therapeutic targets for a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders. One example is Alzheimer's disease, where researchers are investigating the use of nAChR agonists to improve cognitive function in patients. Addiction is another area of interest, with studies suggesting that nAChR antagonists may help to reduce nicotine dependence. Therapy targeting nAChRs is an area of active investigation, with the potential to improve outcomes for a range of neurological conditions. As our understanding of these receptors expands, it is likely that we will discover further applications for nAChR-based therapies.

From: Neurobiology

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Editor-in-chief: Zheng Jiang, Department of Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Publication Type: Open Access Journal
Description: The brain, spinal cord, and nerves make up the nervous system. Together they control all the workings of the body. When something goes wrong with a part of your nervous system, you can have trouble moving, speaking, swallowing, breathing, or learning. You can also have problems with your memory, senses, or mood.