Can neurons switch which neurotransmitter they release?

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Offline thedoc

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Karen Gargiullo asked the Naked Scientists:
Can neurons switch which neurotransmitter they release? You always hear about dopaminergic neurons or whatnot as if that neurotransmitter defines them. I know they can co-release two neurotransmitters at once, but is it possible for one neuron switch from releasing dopamine to releasing serotonin, or any other neurotransmitter? Thanks.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 27/07/2015 10:50:01 by _system »


Offline Pecos_Bill

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Re: Can neurons switch which neurotransmitter they release?
« Reply #1 on: 29/07/2015 00:49:39 »
Let's step away from the synapse a moment and consider it as a black box. What then, does it do?

What it does is trigger (or inhibit some times) depolarization in the associated neuronal dendrite and decides whether an action potential is initiated and sent down the pathway.

Back when I was learning about synaptic transmission the received wisdom was that the efferent neuron only released one type of transmitter. The world turns out to be more complex and at the moment who knows how many different neurotransmitters are in all the different brain synapses?

Nevertheless, the synapse functions in the same black box manner. Is the efferent action potential to be propagated or not?

One need only look at a drunk whose inhibitory frontal lobe neurons are being farkled by alcohol to see that there is a delicate balance that must be maintained between inhibition and excitation or there will be the devil to pay and no pitch hot.