Neurochemistry & Psychopharmacology (Lecture Notes)

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synthesis: enzyme + choline acetyltransferase, acetylcholenzyme A+choline+acetyltransferases

breakdown: acetylcholinesterase breaks it back down

receptors: nicotinic receptors – bound by nicotine, found in brain and muscle cells muscarinic receptors – bound by muscarine

neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, neuro-hormones, neuromodulators
chemical signals that are used to talk from one neuron to (commonly) another neuron
short sequences of amino acids
released from neurons into the blood stream
influence signaling at a synapse, not direct communication
small molecule neurotransmitters
acetylcholine, catecholamine, serotonin
catecholamine examples
dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine
catecholamine synthesis
L-Tyrosine turned into L-DOPA using tyrosine hydroxyl
L-DOPA turned into dopamine by DOPA decarboxylase
dopamine turned into norepinephrine
norepinephrine to epinephrine by DNMT

reuptake transporters pulls dopamine back into cell

catecholamine breakdown
MAO (manoamine oxidase) and COMT (catechol-o-methyltransferase)
catecholamine drug interactions
stimulant drugs (cocaine, meth)
antipsychotics (D2-antagonists)
antidepressants (MAOI’s, tricyclic antidepressants, SNRI’s)
serotonin synthesis
starts with L-tryptophan, turns into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HT) by tryptophan hydroxylase
serotonin receptors
5HT1-5HT8, 18 total, all metabotropic except 5HT3 (ionotropic)
serotonin breakdown and metabolism/reuptake
breakdown by MAO
metabolism/reuptake by SERT (serotonin reuptake transporter)
serotonin drug interactions
MDMA, hallucinogens, antidepressants
amino acid neurotransmitters – excitatory
glutamate and aspartate
primary a.a. nt’s
ionotropic receptors: NMDA, AMPA, kainate
metabotropic receptors: mGluR1-mGluR8
drugs: caffeine, PCP, MSG, astrocytes pull glutamate out of synapse
amino acid neurotransmitters – inhibitory
GABA and glycine
GABA synthesis
made and conserved in pathway GABA shunt
glutamate turns into GABA using glutamic acid decarboxylase
GABA reuptake/breakdown
GABA broken down into smaller components by GABA transaminase, recycled in GABA shunt
GABA receptors
GABA-A, possess specific binding sites
GABA drug interactions
tetanus, pesticide form can cause seizures, drug interaction is strychnine
endogenous opioids, hypothalamus
endogenous opioids
made by the body, shorter strands of a.a., cleaved from propeptides (longer peptides)
endorphins: synthesized by pro-pomc
enkephalin: synthesized by proenkephalin
dynorphins: synthesized by prodynorphin

receptors: bind to mu, kappa, & delta receptors

drugs: opiate/opiod drugs, exogenous

released into bloodstream from posterior pituitary
oxytocin & vasopressin (AVP)
start of labor, causes milk let down in nursing mothers, “love hormone”
vasopressin (AVP)
causes kidneys to conserve water, antidiuretic hormone, may cause social voidance
stress neurochemistry
sympathetic nervous system, fight or flight, HPA axis, system designed to be short-lived, should turn itself off
HPA axis
hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal gland
hypothalamus releases CRH
causes anterior pituitary to release ACTH
causes adrenal gland to release cortisol
(cortisol mobilizes energy, helps fight off infection)
other areas for stress neurochemistry
hippocampus: has glucocorticoids, change neurons in structure & function when constantly activated

amygdala: attuned to processing fear responses, SNS & HPA axis

locus coeruleus: brain cells in brain stem, alertness/awareness

can activate a receptor although NOT a hormone or neurotransmitter
inhibits activation of a receptor, blocks a hormone or neurotransmitter
how well something is bonded to a receptor
how well it activates a receptor
affect mood, thinking, behavior
psychoactive drugs
pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics
movement of a drug through the body
route of administration: how it gets into the system
absorption: process of getting into the bloodstream, best to be lipid soluble
distribution: disbursement throughout the body, depot binding (hinders distribution, have an affinity for fat cells)
biotransformation: metabolism of the drug in liver
excretion: kidneys/urine, waste, saliva, breast milk
the effect of a drug at the target tissue, agonist vs antagonist, pharmacodynamics tolerance (change in the neuron)
Categories: Neurochemistry