Multi-transmitter neurons in the mammalian central nervous system

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2017 Aug:45:85-91. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2017.04.007. Epub 2017 May 10.


It is firmly established that many mammalian neurons release various combinations of amino acids, their derivatives, and other small molecules from presynaptic terminals in order to signal to their postsynaptic targets. Here we discuss recent findings about four types of multi-transmitter neurons-those that release GABA and acetylcholine (Ach); dopamine (DA) and GABA or glutamate; and glutamate and GABA. The mechanisms of co-release in each class differ and highlight the complex and dynamic nature of neurotransmitter release. Furthermore, identifying the neurotransmitter signature of each neuron and the post-synaptic targets of each neurotransmitter remain challenging. The existence of multi-transmitter neurons complicates the interpretation of connectomic wiring diagrams and poses interesting challenges for our understanding of circuit function in the brain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / cytology*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Mammals
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology