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Neuro-Transmitters in the Central Nervous System & their Implication in Learning and Memory Processes

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This review article gives an overview of a number of central neuro-transmitters, which are essential for integrating many functions in the central nervous system (CNS), such as learning, memory, sleep cycle, body movement, hormone regulation and many others. Neurons use neuro-transmitters to communicate, and a great variety of molecules are known to fit the criteria to be classified as such. A process shared by all neuro-transmitters is their release by excocytosis, and we give an outline of the molecular events and protein complexes involved in this mechanism. Synthesis, transport, inactivation, and cellular signaling can be very diverse when different neuro-transmitters are compared, and these processes are described separately for each neuro-transmitter system. Here we focus on the most well known neurotransmitters: acetyl-choline, catechol-amines (dopamine and nor-adrenalin), indole-amine (serotonin), glutamate, and γ- amino-butyric acid (GABA). Glutamate is the major excitatory neuro-transmitter in the brain and its actions are counterbalanced by GABA, which is the major inhibitory substance in the CNS. A balance of neuronal transmission between these two neuro-transmitters is essential to normal brain function. Acetyl-choline, serotonin and catechol-amines have a more modulatory function in the brain, being involved in many neuronal circuits. Apart from summarizing the current knowledge about the synthesis, release and receptor signaling of these transmitters, some disease states due to alteration of their normal neuro-transmission are also described.
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Keywords: Acetyl-choline; Alzheimer's disease; catechol-amines; glutamate; indole-amine; learning and memory; neuro-transmitters; γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA)

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Asklepios-Med Bt, H-6722 Szeged, Kossuth Lajos sgt. 23, Hungary.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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