Neurotransmitter receptors, also known as neuroreceptors, are membrane receptor proteins that are activated by neurotransmitters.
In neurons, postsynaptic neurotransmitter receptors receive a signal from the presynaptic terminal that triggers a change in the membrane potential of the neuron through the opening and closing of ion channels.
Pre-synaptic neurotransmitter receptors regulate the flow of neurotransmitter release into the synaptic cleft.
There are two types of neurotransmitter receptors:
- Ionotropic receptors (Ligand-gated receptors)
- Metabotropic receptors (G-protein coupled receptors).
Ionotropic receptors contain a channel which is modulated by the binding of a specific neurotransmitter. Ligand binding causes the opening or closing of the channel, thereby controlling the flow of ions (Na+, k+, Ca2+, Cl-) into the cell.
Types of ionotropic receptors include:
- GABAA receptors
- Glutamate NMDA receptors
- Glutamate Kainate receptors
- Glutamate AMPA receptors
- Glycine receptors
- Nicotinic Acetylcholine receptors (nAChR)
- Serotonin 5-HT3 receptor
Metabotropic receptors do not have a channel that is not opened or closed by ligand binding. When activated they instead modulate pathways controlling the actions of neurotransmitters and ion channels through second messengers.
Types of metabotropic receptors include:
- Adrenergic receptors
- Dopamine receptors
- GABAB receptors
- Glutamate receptors mGluR
- Histamine receptors
- Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR)
- Opioid receptors
- Serotonin (5-HT) receptors
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