[Neuroscience] Re: Can a single neuron release multiple neurotransmitters?

Zachary Tong via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by polyfractal At gmail.com)
Sat Jan 20 16:22:41 EST 2007

Thanks again to everyone who replied to me.  This is thoroughly
interesting and I find the material fascinating (despite only being an
undergrad just getting into this work).

>>Can't be sure but know of one example that highlights what you're
>>driving at. CB 1 receptors - cannabinoid receptor. Cannabinoid
>>consumption slowly leads to the retraction of these receptor from the
>>cell surface. In one study the degree of cannabinoid tolerance was
>>found to be directly related to the loss of these receptors(mice). It
>>has been suggested that these receptors are then degraded and never
>>find their way back to the cell membrane, thus requiring gene
>>transcription to create new receptors. Hence, long continual pot
>>smoking radically alters the number of CB 1 receptors. Cessation, will,
>>hopefully, restore the receptor balance but that could take weeks if
>>not months.

Thats exactly the idea I was thinking.  I wasn't sure, however, if it
the loss of sensitivity was a "choice" of the neuron, or if it was
because of molecular actions.  Based off your comment about the CB1
receptors, it appears that it is based in molecular limitations.  Then
again, it appears that the brain has evolved to use these limitations
to its advantage, so perhaps its not a limitation as I first assumed.

>>I doubt there would be a way to select between the transmitters for
>>release - after all an action potential is an action potential.  However
>>I could imagine that secondary transmitters leaking back across the
>>synaptic cleft could influence the releasability of presynaptic vesicles
>>of different kinds.  That's just a guess though.

This makes sense.  The interplay of secondary transmitters and reuptake
of primary neurotransmitters with the presynaptic end probably adds
another layer of complexity to the brain, allowing for complex
behaviors to arrise from a fairly simplistic subunit (relatively
speaking of course, the neuron is fascinatingly complex in its own

>>For example, SSVs (containing e.g.,
>>ACh, glutamate, GABA) are released after single spikes, whereas high
>>frequency trains are required to mobilize and release LDCVs containing

Thats really interesting stuff.  The fast and slow actions of the
different vesicles add yet another layer of complexity.  I'd imagine
that, despite being complex, each neuron fires its various transmitters
in a predicatable manner depending on the input.  I'd assume the key to
understanding higher cognitive function is understanding the complex
firing patters, which in turn would mean knowing the exact reasons for
various neurotransmitter release.

Thanks for the papers, I'm about to go read them.  They look
fascinating :)

Lastly, I was curious on the technicalities of conducting "research".
I'm a comp. sci major, but have been highly interested and motivated in
learning about neuroscience.  I've been drafting a prototype brain
simulation, based off of brain structure (particularly the neocortex)
and theories of how the the neocortex works (collection of several
authors).  Anyhow, it should be "functional" (although entirely
possible it not useful) soon, and I'm curious how I should go about
documenting my results.  Take lots of data and date all material?
Should I record observations in a formal manner?

Basically, should I stumble across something publication worthy, how
should I go about documenting my work so that if that time comes, I'm
ready?  Thanks.

-Zachary Tong

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