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There are 39 glossary search results for:   action




Definition:
The action potential is a rapid and reversible reversal of the electrical potential difference across the plasma membrane of excitable cells such as neurons, muscle cells and some endocrine cells. In a neuronal action potential, the membrane potential rapidly changes from its resting level of approximately -70 mV to around +50 mV and, subsequently, rapidly returns to the resting level again. The neuronal action potential forms an important basis for information processing, propagation, and transmission. In muscle cells, the action potential precedes, and is necessary to bring about, muscle contraction. Some endocrine cells also exhibit action potentials, where the excitation leads to hormone secretion.

The action potential is also referred to as the electrical impulse or nervous impulse.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Graded potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
The absolute refractory period refers to a period during the action potential. This is the time during which another stimulus given to the neuron (no matter how strong) will not lead to a second action potential. The absolute refractory period starts immediately after the initiation of the action potential and lasts until after the peak of the action potential. Following this period, the relative refractory period begins.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Relative refractory period

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Refractory Periods



Abbreviation:
ACh

Definition:
Acetylcholine (ACh) is a chemical neurotransmitter used by the central nervous system (CNS) as well as the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Acetylcholine is a classical neurotransmitter and, in fact, it was the first of the classic neurotransmitters to be discovered. It was discovered in 1914 by Henry Hallett Dale while conducting experiments on the heart.

Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter used by the somatic division of the nervous system at the neuromuscular junction (where a somatic motor neuron makes synaptic contact with a skeletal muscle cell). Acetylcholine is also used extensively by both branches of the autonomic nervous system; sympathetic and parasympathetic. It is the primary neurotransmitter released in autonomic ganglia by preganglionic autonomic neurons. It is also the primary neurotransmitter released by parasympathetic postganglionic neurons. A few sympathetic postganglionic neurons also release acetylcholine. The diverse actions of acetylcholine are exerted via the activation of nicotinic and muscarinic ACh receptors.

Other resources:
Acetylcholine (Wikipedia)



Definition:
An enzyme found in the synaptic cleft at cholinergic synapses. It degrades acetylcholine to choline and acetate and, thus, terminates the action of acetylcholine at the synapse. Neither choline nor acetate can bind to acetylcholine receptors (nicotinic or muscarinic).



Definition:
An agonist is a molecule that binds to a receptor and activates a physiological response similar to that induced by the naturally occurring physiological ligand of the receptor. Therefore, agonist binding to a receptor mimics the action of the natural ligand.

For example, acetylcholine (ACh) is the naturally occurring physiological ligand that activates nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine is an agonist of nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChR), and muscarine is an agonist of muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChR).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Antagonist



Definition:
All-or-nothing is usually used when describing the action potential. It refers to the well-known observation that an action potential always occurs in its full size (i.e., full magnitude of voltage change).

Many physiologists use all-or-nothing and all-or-none interchangeably.

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
An antagonist is a molecule that binds to a receptor, however, it does not activate the physiological response induced by the naturally occurring physiological ligand of the receptor. Moreover, once bound to the receptor, an antagonist prevents the physiological ligand from activating the receptor. Therefore, antagonist binding to a receptor prevents or blocks the action of the natural ligand.

For example, acetylcholine (ACh) is the naturally occurring physiological ligand that activates nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Tubocurarine and succinylcholine are antagonists of the nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR), and atropine is an antagonist of the muscarinic ACh receptor (mAChR).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Agonist



Definition:
The large blood vessel (artery) that receives the output of the left ventricle of the heart. The aorta is the first and largest (in diameter) artery of the systemic circulation.

Following ventricular contraction (systole), hydrostatic pressure within the ventricle exceeds the pressure in the aorta, which forces blood out of the left ventricle, through the aortic semilunar valve, and into the aorta. As the ventricle relaxes during diastole, the pressure within the left ventricle drops to a level below that in the aorta. At this point, the aortic semilunar valve closes, which prevents the backflow of blood from the aorta to the left ventricle.



Definition:
Atropine is a blocker (i.e., inhibitor) of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Therefore, atropine blocks the action of postganglionic parasympathetic neurons.



Definition:
The region of the neuron cell body from which the axon originates. The axon hillock is generally the site of action potential initiation. It is also referred to as the initial segment.



Abbreviation:
Ca2+

Definition:
Calcium (Ca2+) is a divalent cation. It plays an important role in physiological processes such as muscle contraction and synaptic transmission. Calcium is also an intracellular messenger.

The extracellular concentration of Ca2+ is about 2 mM. The intracellular concentration of Ca2+ is about 70 nM.



Abbreviation:
CO

Definition:
Cardiac output is defined as the volume of blood pumped every minute by each (left or right) ventricle of the heart. It is generally reported in L/min or mL/min.

Cardiac output (CO) is the product of heart rate (HR) and stroke volume (SV). Thus,

CO = HR × SV

Heart rate is defined as the number of heart contractions per minute. Stroke volume is the volume of blood pumped per ventricular contraction.

For a typical resting adult human being at rest, CO is approximately 5 L/min.

CO = 70 contractions/min × 70 mL/contraction = 4,900 mL/min



Abbreviation:
CI

Definition:
The main anion (negatively charged ion) of the extracellular fluid.

Cloride (Cl) plays an important role in several physiological processes such as the action potential of skeletal muscle cells, CO2 transport in blood (via Cl/bicarbonate exchange across the plasma membrane of red blood cells), and many other processes.

The extracellular concentration of Cl is about 110 mM. The intracellular concentration of Cl is about 10 mM.



Definition:
Refers to neurons, synapses, or receptors where acetylcholine is used as the neurotransmitter.

For example, cholinergic neurons release acetylcholine as their neurotransmitter.

In cholinergic synapses, acetylcholine is released from the presynaptic neuron, and it acts on acetylcholine receptors in the plasma membrane of the postsynaptic cell.

Cholinergic receptors are those that respond to acetylcholine as the physiological ligand. The two major types are nicotinic and muscarinic cholinergic receptors (may also be referred to as nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors).

Cholinergic drugs are compounds that mimic the action of acetylcholine by binding to and activating cholinergic receptors.



Definition:
Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of biological macromolecules, cells, tissues, and organs. Electrical signals such as voltage and/or current are generally measured. Examples include measuring changes in the membrane voltage of excitable cells (e.g., neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells) during an action potential. The current carrried by ions as they permeate the pore of ion channels can also be measured - both at the single-channel level (single-channel current), as well as the macroscopic current resulting from the activity of a population of channels. As another example, electrical measurements may involve recording voltage changes at the surface of the skin that result from the activity of skeletal muscles (electromyogram, EMG), cardiac myocytes (electrocardiogram, ECG), or neurons in the brain (electroencephalogram, EEG).



Definition:
Refers to the ability of some cells to be electrically excited resulting in the generation of action potentials. Neurons, muscle cells (skeletal, cardiac, and smooth), and some endocrine cells (e.g., insulin-releasing pancreatic β cells) are excitable cells.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Introduction



Abbreviation:
GABA

Definition:
GABA is an inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. During embryonic development, GABA acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter at some central synapses. GABA is a classical neurotransmitter. Its action is exerted via the activation of GABAA, GABAB, and GABAC receptors. GABAA and GABAC receptors are ligand-gated chloride channels, whereas GABAB receptors are G protein coupled receptors. At GABAergic synapses, the action of GABA is terminated by GABA transporters (GAT), which transport GABA from the extracellular space in synaptic and extrasynaptic regions into neurons and glia.



Definition:
Glutamate (Glu, E) is one of the standard twenty (20) amino acids used by cells to synthesize peptides, polypeptides, and proteins. It has a molecular weight of 147.13 g/mol. Its side chain has a pKa of 4.07 and, therefore, glutamate has a net negative charge at physiological pH.

In the nervous system, glutamate is an excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter. In fact, glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. Glutamate is a classical neurotransmitter. Its action is exerted via the activation of glutamate receptors (GluR), some of which are ligand-gated ion channels (ionotropic receptors), and some are G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs, metabotropic receptors). At glutamatergic synapses, the action of glutamate is terminated by glutamate transporters (EAAT, excitatory amino acid transporter), which transport glutamate from the extracellular space in synaptic and extrasynaptic regions into neurons and glia.



Definition:
Glycine (Gly, G) is one of the standard twenty (20) amino acids. At a molecular weight of 75.07 g/mol, it is the smallest of the 20 amino acids used by cells to synthesize peptides, polypeptides, and proteins.

In the nervous system, glycine is also an inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter. Glycinergic synapses are most commonly found in brain stem and spinal cord circuits. Glycine is a classical neurotransmitter. Its action is exerted via the activation of ionotropic glycine receptors (GlyR), which are ligand-gated chloride channels. At glycinergic synapses, the action of glycine is terminated by glycine transporters (GlyT), which transport glycine from the extracellular space in synaptic and extrasynaptic regions into neurons and glia.



Definition:
Refers to the hyperpolarization phase of the action potential.

It is also referred to as undershoot.

See figure.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hyperpolarization

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Lidocaine is a local anesthetic and an antiarrhythmic drug. It is a commonly used local anesthetic for minor surgery and in dental procedures. Lidocaine is also used topically to relieve itching, burning, and pain from skin inflammations.

Lidocaine's mechanism of action is to block fast voltage-gated Na+ channels of neurons and cardiac myocytes.

Other names used for lidocaine are xylocaine and lignocaine.

See also:
Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels

Other resources:
Lidocaine (Wikipedia)



Definition:
The voltage difference across a cell plasma membrane.

The membrane potential is generally inside negative with respect to the outside, where the outside potential is generally set as the reference value. In electrically excitable cells, the value of the membrane potential can be positive (inside with respect to the outside) during electrical activity (i.e., during action potentials).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Resting membrane potential

See also:
Resting membrane potential



Definition:
Refers to the action potential of neurons. It is also referred to as the nervous impulse.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Action potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Refers to the action potential of neurons. It is also referred to as the nerve impulse.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Action potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Refers to cells that do not generate action potentials. With the exception of neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells, all cells in the body are non-excitable.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Refers to that part of the action potential where the membrane potential is positive (inside with respect to the outside).

See figure.

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
The component of the electrocardiogram (ECG) that corresponds to the depolarization of atrial myocytes. Atrial depolarization precedes atrial contraction.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
QRS complex
T wave



Abbreviation:
K+

Definition:
The main cation (positively charged ion) of the intracellular fluid.

Potassium (K+) plays an important role in the action potential of neurons and muscle cells.

The extracellular concentration of K+ is about 4 mM. The intracellular concentration of K+ is about 150 mM.



Definition:
A local topical anesthetic.

Procaine's mechanism of action is to block fast voltage-gated Na+ channels of neurons.

See also:
Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels

Other resources:
Procaine (Wikipedia)



Definition:
Peptide hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland. Prolactin is best known for its action in stimulating the mammary glands to produce milk (lactation).

Prolactin is known to be involved in many other physiological processes including enlargement of the mammary glands in preparation for milk production, sexual gratification, metabolism, regulation of the immune system, and others.

Other resources:
Prolactin (Wikipedia)



Definition:
The component of the electrocardiogram (ECG) that corresponds to the depolarization of ventricular myocytes. Ventricular depolarization precedes ventricular contraction.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
P wave
T wave



Definition:
The relative refractory period refers to a period during the action potential. This is the time during which a stronger than normal stimulus is needed in order to elicit an action potential. The relative refractory period immediately follows the absolute refractory period.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Absolute refractory period

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Refractory Periods



Abbreviation:
Na+

Definition:
The main cation (positively charged ion) of the extracellular fluid.

Sodium (Na+) plays an important role in several physiological processes such as the action potential of neurons and muscle cells, secondary active, sodium-coupled transport of ions, nutrients, neurotransmitters across the plasma membrane of cells, and many other processes.

The extracellular concentration of Na+ is about 145 mM. The intracellular concentration of Na+ is about 15 mM.



Definition:
Refers to the rapid depolarization of the membrane early in the action potential. In neuronal, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle action potentials, the Hodgkin cycle is responsible for the spike phase of the action potential.

See figure.

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Action potential

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Action potential



Definition:
Sub-threshold (or subthreshold) refers to a stimulus that is too small in magnitude to produce an action potential in excitable cells.

In general, a sub-threshold stimulus leads to the depolarization of the membrane, but the magnitude of the depolarization is not large enough to reach the threshold voltage. Therefore, sub-threshold stimuli do not elicit action potentials.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Threshold
Supra-threshold

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Supra-threshold (or suprathreshold) refers to a stimulus that is large enough in magnitude to produce an action potential in excitable cells.

In general, a supra-threshold stimulus leads to the depolarization of the membrane, and the magnitude of the depolarization is larger than that necessary to simply reach the threshold voltage. Therefore, supra-threshold stimuli elicit action potentials.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Threshold
Sub-threshold

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction



Definition:
The membrane voltage that must be reached in an excitable cell (e.g., neuron or muscle cell) during a depolarization in order to generate an action potential. At the threshold voltage, voltage-gated channels become activated. Threshold is approximately −50 to −40 mV in most excitable cells.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Sub-threshold
Supra-threshold

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Refers to the hyperpolarization phase of the action potential.

It is also referred to as hyperpolarizing afterpotential.

See figure.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hyperpolarization

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential









Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013
Last updated: Friday, August 28, 2015