Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, or nAChRs, are cholinergic receptors that form ligand-gated ion channels in the plasma membranes of certain neurons. Being ionotropic (i.e. ligand-gated) receptors, nAChRs are directly linked to an ion channel and do not make use of a second messenger as metabotropic receptors do.
This activation of receptors by nicotine modifies the state of neurons through two main mechanisms. On one hand, the movements of cations cause a depolarisation of the plasma membrane (which results in an excitatory postsynaptic potential in neurons), but also by the activation of other voltage-gated ion channels. On the other hand, the entry of calcium acts, either directly or indirectly, on different intracellular cascades leading, for example, to the regulation of the activity of some genes or the release of neurotransmitters.
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