Cholinergic stimulation


Cholinergic stimulation is brought about by somatic motor neurons, postganglionic parasympathetic neurons, and all of the preganglionic autonomic neurons.

They all use acetylcholine in order to transmit their cholinergic stimulation. Preganglionic autonomic neurons and somatic motor neurons only put out and transmit excitatory impulses.

Most of the time the transmission created by the postganglionic parasympathetic neurons are excitable. However, there are exceptions to this.

The parasympathetic neurons which are responsible for control of the heart rate are able to send out cholinergic transmission that slow the heart rather than excite it.


Cholinergic stimulation
Image: Cholinergic Stimulation

In the medical community, the medication known as muscarine is used to slow the heart among other responses. Derived from a mushroom, muscarine is able to mimic precisely the cholinergic effects that are typical of the parasympathetic neurons. The nerves relate to the heart, the smooth muscles, and the glands.

These organs house receptors which are known to slow at the response of cholinergic stimulation, and thus the medication is effective at enhancing this natural process in the body. Muscarine is unable to produce the same result in the skeletal muscles or the nerves and muscles relating to the autonomic ganglia, as the body does not naturally respond to cholinergic stimulation of these areas by slowing or calming. The visceral organs with acetylcholine receptors are determined to be muscarinic.
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