The biophysical pharmacology of calcium-dependent acetylcholine secretion

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108 Scopus citations


This review is principally concerned with the release of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (ACh) as detected by electrophysiological recordings at the skeletal neuromuscular junction. As an overture to the subsequent discussion of the secretory process, the electrophysiologal methods and the inorganic chemistry of the alkaline earth metal (Me) series will be outlined. Then, after describing the various models for Me-dependent ACh release, a discussion of the intracellular physical forces that initiate secretion and the depressive and facilitatory processes that ensue after secretion will be presented. The review concludes with a summary and the inevitable speculative incursion, for which I beg the reader's indulgence. Two appendices have also been included for the convenience of the newcomer to quantitative presynaptic electrophysiology. Appendix A provides complete derivations of the salient equations of biophysical pharmacology. Appendix B provides a description of the effects of cations other than the alkaline earth series on ACh release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-132
Number of pages52
JournalPharmacological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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