Neurotransmitters, also named as chemical transmitter, are a great variety of chemical agents released by neurons to stimulate neighbouring neurons. Through this way, impulses to are transferred from one cell to the next throughout the nervous system. The synapse is the site where neurons meet, consisting of the axon terminal of one cell and the dendrite of the next. A synaptic cleft is a microscopic gap existing between the neurons. When arriving at the axon terminal of one neuron, the nerve impulse would elicit the presynaptic membrane to release a chemical substance. The release of the chemical substance is stimulated by the electrical activity of the neuron. The chemical substance can be transported at extremely high speed to the postsynaptic membrane of the adjoining neuron. It will take only milliseconds for the chemical substance to transfer across the synaptic cleft. The chemical substances like this are called neurotransmitters. The identified neurotransmitters include dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and serotonin.
The precursors of neurotransmitters are plentiful and simple such as amino acids and biogenic amines. These precursors are readily available from the diet and only simple biosynthetic steps are needed to convert the precursors to neurotransmitters. Though only one kind of neurotransmitter are produced and released by some neurons, most neurons make and release more than one neurotransmitter at any given time. Because of the coexistence of more than one neurotransmitter in the synapse, it is possible for the cell to exert several influences at the same time. In the axon terminal on the presynaptic side of a synapse, there are some synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane. Neurotransmitters are packaged into these synaptic vesicles. Though low-level baseline release of neurotransmitters occurs without electrical stimulation, peak-level release of neurotransmitters usually is stimulated by an action potential at the synapse or a graded electrical potential.
In recent years, neurotransmitters have been the subject of intensive investigations. For example, because of its effect on alertness, memory and learning, an essential neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, acetylcholine has been widely studied. Several issues must be considered, when select a method for separation and quantification. Since the concentration and the volume of most neurotransmitters in the extracellular space is rather low, the developed analytical method should be able to work with the smallest sample volume and provide detection limits lower than the lowest concentration in the dialysate.
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