Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on hippocampal neurons: distribution on the neuronal surface and modulation of receptor activity

J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 1997 Jan-May;17(1-3):243-66. doi: 10.3109/10799899709036607.


The recent development of a technique that uses infrared microscopy for the visualization of well-defined areas on the surface of neurons, and a computerized system of micromanipulators led to the discovery that functional nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are expressed at higher density on the dendrites than on the soma of rat hippocampal neurons. The finding that the expression of alpha-bungarotoxin-sensitive, alpha 7-bearing, nAChRs and dihydro-beta-erythroidine-sensitive, alpha 4 beta 2 nAChRs tends to increase along the dendritic length suggests that these receptors may be highly involved in the integration of synaptic functions in hippocampal neurons. The present report also discusses the finding that ligands such as the anticholinesterase galanthamine can modulate the nAChR activity by binding to a novel receptor site, and that 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) may serve as an endogenous ligand for this site. The ability of 5-HT to modulate the nAChR function in vivo supports the concept that the overall CNS function is determined not only by the neuronal network established by the neuronal wiring, but also by a chemical network established by the ability of a single substance to act as the primary neurotransmitter in one system and as a co-transmitter in another system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism
  • Cyanobacteria Toxins
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Hippocampus / chemistry*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Marine Toxins / metabolism
  • Microcystins
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurons / chemistry*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurotoxins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / analysis*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cyanobacteria Toxins
  • Marine Toxins
  • Microcystins
  • Neurotoxins
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Serotonin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Acetylcholine