Acetylcholine controls muscle contraction

Acetylcholine (Ach)

The neurotransmitter is the acetylcholine (Ach), at parasympathetic neuro-effector joints, autonomic, adrenal, somatic neuromuscular joints, and CNS. Ach is generated in the cholinergic nerve endings, storage and release of och. It was discovered by Henry Hallett Dale in 1914, and its existence was later confirmed by Otto Loewi.

Acetyl CoA is derived from pyruvate generated by glycolysis. Acetyl CoA is produced and released into the cytoplasm after a reaction between acetate, coenzyme A and ATP. By active transport via the axonal membrane choline enters the axoplasm.

Choline transportation from the extracellular to neuronal fluid is directly proportional to extracellular Na+ concentrations and is hemicholinically hindered.

Why It’s Important

  • It performs a variety of important roles, many of which can be harmed by diseases or medicines that affect the neurotransmitter’s activity.
  • Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter found in all motor neurons that causes muscles to contract.
  • The functions of this vital neurotransmitter are involved in every movement of the body, from the stomach and heart to the blink of an eye.
  • It’s also located in a lot of brain neurons and is involved in mental processes including memory and cognition.

Role of Acetylcholine in muscle contraction

The neuromuscular junction is one of the few synapses in the nervous system for which most of the intricacies of chemical transmission have been worked out because it is large enough to be studied readily. At this junction, acetyl-choline is formed and released in the following stages:

Small vesicles:-

The Golgi apparatus in the cell body of the motoneuron in the spinal cord produces particles that are around 40 nanometers in size. Axoplasmstreams” through the core of the axon from the central cell body in the spinal cord all the way to the neuromuscular junction at the terminals of the peripheral nerve fibres, transporting these vesicles. In the nerve terminals of a single skeletal muscle end plate, over 300,000 of these tiny vesicles collect.


Is generated in the cytosol of the nerve fibre terminal but is promptly transferred through the membranes of the vesicles to their core, where it is stored in highly concentrated form, with each vesicle containing roughly 10,000 molecules of acetylcholine.

When an action potential arrives at the nerve terminal

  • Because the nerve terminal has a lot of voltage-gated calcium channels, it opens a lot of calcium channels in the membrane.
  • As a result, the calcium ion concentration inside the terminal membrane rises by around 100-fold, resulting in a 10,000-fold increase in the rate of cholinergic vesicle fusion with the terminal membrane.
  • Many of the vesicles break as a result of the fusion, allowing acetylcholine exocytosis into the synaptic gap.
  • Each action potential normally ruptures about 125 vesicles.
  • The acetylcholine is then divided into acetate ion and choline by acetylcholinesterase after a few milliseconds, and the choline is actively reabsorbed into the neuronal terminal to be reused to generate fresh acetylcholine.
  • This sequence of events takes 5 to 10 milliseconds to complete.

The number of vesicles available in the nerve ending

  • Is sufficient to allow only a few thousand nerves to muscle impulses to be sent.
  • As a result, new vesicles must be generated quickly in order for the neuromuscular junction to continue to function.
  • Contractile proteins at the nerve ending, particularly the protein clathrin, which is connected to the membrane in the areas of the original vesicles, cause “coated pits” in the terminal nerve membrane a few seconds after each action potential is over.
  • Proteins compress in about 20 seconds, causing the pits to break away from the membrane’s interior and form new vesicles.
  • Acetylcholine is delivered to the interior of these vesicles within a few seconds, and they are ready for a fresh cycle of acetylcholine release.

Drugs That Enhance or Block Transmission at the Neuromuscular Junction

  • Organophosphates are one of several fascinating medications that interact with cholinergic enzymes. Insecticides like diphenyl trichloroethane (DTT) and the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) were developed first.
  • Chemical warfare agents are also included in this list. The nerve gas “Sarin,” which gained notoriety a few years ago after a group of terrorists discharged it in Tokyo’s subway system, is one such chemical.
  • Because organophosphates inhibit AChE, allowing ACh to accumulate at cholinergic synapses, they can be fatal to humans (and insects).
  • This build-up of ACh depolarizes the postsynaptic cell and makes it refractory to further ACh release, resulting in neuromuscular paralysis, among other things.

Drugs That Stimulate the Muscle Fiber by Acetylcholine

  • Action is a good example. Methacholine, carbachol, and nicotine, among other chemicals, has the same impact on muscle fibres as acetylcholine.
  • These medications differ from acetylcholine in that they are not degraded by cholinesterase or are destroyed so slowly that their effects might last for several minutes to many hours.
  • The medications act by producing localised depolarization of the muscle fibre membrane at the motor end plate, which is where the acetylcholine receptors are found.
  • Then, once a muscle fibre recovers from a prior contraction, these depolarized areas, thanks to leaking ions, activate a new action potential, resulting in muscular spasm.

Drugs That  Stimulate  the  Neuromuscular  Junction by Inactivating Acetylcholinesterase

  • Neostigmine, physostigmine, and diisopropyl fluorophosphate are three well-known medicines that inactivate acetylcholinesterase in synapses, preventing it from hydrolyzing acetylcholine.
  • As a result, more acetylcholine accumulates with each succeeding nerve impulse, stimulating the muscle fibre repeatedly.
  • When even a few nerve impulses reach the muscle, the muscle spasms. Unfortunately, laryngeal spasm, which suffocates the sufferer, can result in death.
  • Neostigmine and physostigmine bind to acetylcholinesterase and inactivate it for up to several hours, after which the medicines are displaced from the esterase and the esterase becomes active again.
  • Diisopropyl fluorophosphate, on the other hand, is a potent “nerve” gas poison that inactivates acetyl-cholinesterase for weeks, making it a particularly dangerous poison.

Drugs That Block Transmission  at the Neuromuscular Junction

  • Curariform medicines are a class of pharmaceuticals that block the flow of impulses from the nerve terminal to the muscle.
  • D-tubocurarine, for example, prevents acetylcholine from acting on the acetylcholine receptors in muscle fibres, preventing a significant rise in permeability of the muscular membrane channels to initiate an action potential.

Myasthenia Gravis Causes Muscle Paralysis

  • Myasthenia gravis (my-us-THEE-nee-uh GRAY-vis) is a condition that causes weakness and fast exhaustion in any of the muscles that you can control.
  • A breakdown in the regular communication between neurons and muscles causes it.
  • Muscle paralysis results from the inability of the neuromuscular junctions to transmit adequate signals from the nerve fibres to the muscle fibres in myasthenia gravis, which affects roughly 1 in every 20,000 people.
  • Antibodies that assault acetylcholine receptors have been found in the blood of the majority of myasthenia gravis patients.
  • As a result, myasthenia gravis is thought to be an autoimmune illness in which the patients’ own acetylcholine receptors at the postsynaptic neuromuscular junction are blocked or destroyed by antibodies.
  • Regardless of the reason, the end plate potentials that occur in muscle fibres are usually too weak to cause the voltage-gated sodium channels to open, preventing muscle fibre depolarization.
  • The patient dies of paralysis, namely paralysis of the breathing muscles, if the condition is severe enough. Administering neostigmine or another anticholinesterase medicine, which permits higher than normal levels of acetylcholine to build in the synaptic region, can usually alleviate the condition for several hours.
  • Some of these paralysed patients can resume practically normal function within minutes, until a repeat dose of neostigmine is required a few hours later.

So, Acetylcholine is a crucial neurotransmitter that is necessary for the brain and body to function normally. Disruptions in this neurotransmitter’s release and function can cause serious issues in areas like memory and movement. After reading this article it will be clear that some unknown taken drugs why causes muscle problem.            

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