What Are Randomized Controlled Trials?

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a type of scientific experiment which aims to reduce bias when testing a new treatment. The people participating in the trial are randomly allocated […]

What Is A Meta-analysis?

A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies. The basic tenet behind meta-analyses is that there is a common truth behind all conceptually similar […]

What Is Positron Emission Tomography?

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine, functional imaging technique that is used to observe metabolic processes in the body. The system detects pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly […]

Grey Matter Definition

Grey matter is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of neuronal cell bodies, neuropil (dendrites and myelinated as well as unmyelinated axons), glial cells (astroglia and oligodendrocytes), […]

What Is Cerebrospinal Fluid?

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear, colorless body fluid found in the brain and spinal cord. It is produced in the choroid plexuses of the ventricles of the brain. It […]


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.