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Neurotransmitter questions

Ringo ringo at craft.camp.clarkson.edu
Tue Oct 6 09:07:59 EST 1992

alves at calvin.usc.edu (William Alves) writes:

>First, this whole neurotransmitter business. As I see it, there are only
>two possible effects a neurotransmitter can have on a neuron - it can
>inhibit or excite the cell. Then doesn't it seem logical that there would
>be only two types of neurotransmitters, instead of the pharmacopeia that
>has been discovered? What is the difference between inhibition from one
>neurotransmitter and another?

Some possible effects a neurotransmitter can have: Increase/Decrease = I/D.
I/D spontaneous firing rate.
I/D resting potential to bring it nearer to/further from threshold.
I/D activity of other NT's
I/D receptability of neuron to OTHER NT's (NT = Neurotransmitter)
I/D secretion of a neuromodulator, which can do any of the above.
Several more things, too. Won't bother to go into them.

>Second, the non-technical sources I have read have made a big deal out of
>the chemical similarities between certain hallucinogens (LSD for example)
>and certain neurotransmitters (serotonin for example). Yet is simple 
>mimickry behind all of the drug's effects? If that is so, why do different
>serotonin-like drugs have wildly different effects, and others have none
>at all?

A drug can mimic, block or enhance another NT. (Actually it can do lots
more, like prevent reuptake of an NT, prolonging its activity on the
PostSyn Neuron.) LSD is a similar chemical to Serotonin, and mimics its
effects. The LSD you've probably taken, though, is LSD-25. If you've
taken other lsd containing things, it very probably didn't have the
same isomer. It was another ergoline (class that LSD belongs to) which
had very similar, though not exactly the same effects as LSD-25.
So, taking from the list above, a drug can mimic, block, enhance, inhibit,
etc, ANY of the above things. 

I hope this has cleared things up for you somewhat.

--John Rescigno
Dept. of Psychology
Clarkson University
Nowhere, NY

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