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Biology Articles » Neurobiology » Molecular & Cellular Neurobiology » Amyloid beta, neural lipids, cholesterol & Alzheimer's disease » Synaptic function basic

Synaptic function basic
- Amyloid beta, neural lipids, cholesterol & Alzheimer's disease

Cholesterol (and phospholipids) is a building block of any cell membrane (the nervous system wrapping material, where neuronal information in the form of electric activity is generated and propagated) and specialized membrane structures, lipid rafts and synaptic vesicles. In the brain the information (coded as nerve impulse) is transmitted from presynaptic neuron-transmitter to a postsynaptic neuron-receiver at the tiny gap between cells called synapse. The first neuron output nerve ending (called axon) releases synaptic vesicles containing chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitter molecules then bind to receptors of the neuron-receiver input processes, located in postsynaptic membrane functional domains, called lipid rafts. After the minute interaction with a receptor on the neuron-receiver, neurotransmitter molecules normally return back to the nerve ending (from where they were released) for recycling in order to be ready for the next act of neurotransmission. This transient neurotransmitter-receptor interaction represents the quantum of neurotransmission and synaptic function. It launches a number of chemical changes inside the postsynaptic neuron-receiver, essential for the nerve signal processing, synaptic amplification or modulation (also called synaptic plasticity), and for the formation of memory [2].


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