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Acetylcholine Definition
What Is Acetylcholine?

Acetylcholine (ACh) is a chemical compound which is an ester of acetic acid and choline with chemical formula CH3COOCH2CH2N(CH3)3+, act as a neurotransmitter in central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) in most of the higher organisms including man. Acetylcholine is synthesized at axon endings from acetyl coenzyme A and choline by the enzyme choline acetyltransferase, and is stored at each ending in hundreds of thousands of membrane-enclosed synaptic vesicles. When a nerve impulse reaches an axon ending, voltage-gated calcium channels in the axonal membrane open and calcium, which is extremely low inside the cell, enters the nerve ending. The increase in calcium-ion concentration causes hundreds of synaptic vesicles to fuse with the cell membrane and expel acetylcholine into the synaptic cleft (exocytosis). The acetylcholine released at a neuromuscular junction binds reversibly to acetylcholine receptors in the muscle end-plate membrane, a postsynaptic membrane that is separated from the nerve ending by a very short distance. The receptor is a cation channel which opens when two acetylcholine molecules are bound, allowing a sodium current to enter the muscle cell and depolarize the membrane. The resulting impulse indirectly causes the muscle to contract.

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