Calcium modulation and high calcium permeability of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors

Neuron. 1992 Jan;8(1):127-34. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(92)90114-s.


Two properties were found to distinguish neuronal from muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). First, neuronal nAChRs have a greater Ca2+ permeability. The high Ca2+ flux through neuronal nAChRs activates a Ca(2+)-dependent Cl- conductance, and the Ca2+ to Cs+ permeability ratio (PCa/PCs) is 7 times greater for neuronal than for muscle nAChRs. A second difference between the receptor types is that neuronal nAChRs are potently modulated by physiological levels of external Ca2+. Neuronal nAChR currents are enhanced by external Ca2+ in a dose-dependent manner. The results indicate that changes in extracellular Ca2+ modulate neuronal nAChRs and may modulate cholinergic synapses in the CNS. Also, activation of neuronal nAChRs produces a significant influx of Ca2+ that could be an important intracellular signal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / physiology
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Cattle
  • Cesium / metabolism
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Chromaffin System / physiology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mice
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Permeability
  • RNA / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Transfection
  • Xenopus


  • Chlorides
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Cesium
  • RNA
  • Calcium