Neurotransmitter Uptake

  • Edith D. Hendley


Neurotransmitter uptake is here defined as the process of translocation of the released neurotransmitter from the extracellular to an intracellular compartment without chemical modification. Most of our knowledge concerning the disposition of the released transmitter was originally elucidated in the peripheral nervous system, where acetylcholine (ACh) and norepinephrine (NE) were the only known neurochemical mediators. For many decades it has been known that ACh released from nerve terminals was hydrolyzed and inactivated rapidly and efficiently by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. A similar enzymatic degradative process was invoked for the inactivation of the catecholamines, both NE released from sympathetic nerves and epinephrine released as a hormone by the adrenal medulla. The catecholamine-degrading enzymes monoamine oxidase (MAO) and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) were assigned the role of rapid enzymatic removal of the sympathetic nerve transmitter, analogous to the role of acetylcholinesterase in cholinergic transmission. However, several lines of experimental evidence, beginning with Burn in 1932,1 led to the rejection of the enzymatic hypothesis and to the discovery in the 1950s of uptake as the major mode of inactivation of catecholamines (see Iversen2 for historical review). A key finding was that the pressor actions of the catecholamines injected intravenously were neither greatly prolonged nor markedly potentiated when both MAO and COMT were simultaneously inhibited by pharmacological blockade3 (a paradigm analogous to the known marked potentiation and prolongation of ACh’s actions following blockade of acetylcholinesterase by physostigmine).


Uptake Process Choline Uptake Uptake Site Gaba Uptake Neuronal Uptake 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edith D. Hendley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and BiophysicsUniversity of Vermont College of MedicineBurlingtonUSA

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