What do neurotransmitters do?

Neurotransmitters are needed for nerve cells to communicate with each other. These so-called neurotransmitters transmit information between the nerve cells and thus contribute to the functionality of many bodily processes. To date, about 100 different neurotransmitters are known, but by no means all of them. They differ in their chemical structure and function.

What is the function of neurotransmitters?

Was sind Neurotransmitter

The most important task of neurotransmitters is the transmission of information between nerve cells. This information transfer works as follows: When an electrical signal or stimulus reaches one end of a nerve cell, the neurotransmitters there are released into the junctions between nerve cells called synapses (also called the synaptic cleft). From there, the neurotransmitters travel to the next nerve cell and bind to the receptors that are suitable for them. In this way, they pass the signal on to the next nerve cell.

What is the function of neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters can have an activating ("excitatory") or inhibitory ("inhibitory") function. This means that they either enhance or inhibit signal transmission. However, the decisive factor here is not the neurotransmitter itself, but the type of receptor to which it preferentially docks.

Neurotransmitter Aufgabe

Among the most important excitatory neurotransmitters is glutamic acid (glutamate), which contributes to muscle development and supports the immune system. One of the most important representatives of the inhibitory neurotransmitters is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA for short). It is not only important for brain development, but also has a relaxing and calming effect.

In addition to these mainly excitatory or inhibitory transmitters, some have different effects depending on which receptor subtype they bind to. This is true, for example, of the catecholamine group, which includes the well-known neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.

Why do neurotransmitters act differently?

In addition to binding to different receptor types, there is another reason for the different modes of action of neurotransmitters: The messenger substances also differ in their chemical structure and the resulting properties. Basically, three types of neurotransmitters can be distinguished:

Amino acids are important for the formation of neurotransmitters, but some of them act as messengers themselves, such as glutamic acid (glutamate) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Another class of substances are the amines, which include the best-known representatives of the neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline. The third group is the neuropeptides, which include endorphins and hormones such as oxytocin.

Conclusion on the function of neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are messenger substances that transmit information between nerve cells in the form of electrical signals and biochemical stimuli. They are involved in various bodily functions. The transmitters can come from different chemical substance classes and bind to specific receptors. Depending on the type of receptor involved, the transmitter has an activating or inhibiting effect and thus fulfills a specific task in the body.