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Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger made by your nerves. Some medicines that are used to treat various neurological conditions work by stopping acetylcholine from doing its job.
Acetylcholine (ACh) was first identified in 1914 by Henry Hallett Dale for its actions on heart tissue. It was confirmed as a neurotransmitter by Otto Loewi. Both received the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work.
Later work showed that acetylcholine binding to acetylcholine receptors on striated muscle fibers, opened channels in the membrane. Sodium ions then enter the muscle cell, stimulating muscle contraction. Acetylcholine is also used in the brain, where it tends to cause excitatory actions. The glands that receive impulses from the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system are also stimulated in the same way.
Acetylcholine is synthesized in certain neurons by the enzyme choline acetyltransferase from the compounds choline and acetyl-CoA. Organic mercurial compounds have a high affinity for sulfhydryl groups, which attributes to its effect on enzyme dysfunction of choline acetyl transferase. This inhibition may lead to acetylcholine deficiency, and can have consequences on motor function.