Neuro-transmitters in the central nervous system & their implication in learning and memory processes

Helton J. Reis, Cristina Guatimosim, Maryse Paquet, Magda Santos, Fabíola M. Ribeiro, Arthur Kummer, Grace Schenatto, João V. Salgado, Luciene B. Vieira, Antônio L. Teixeira, András Palotás

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


This review article gives an overview of a number of central neuro-transmitters, which are essential for integrating many functions in the central nervous system (CNS), such as learning, memory, sleep cycle, body movement, hormone regulation and many others. Neurons use neuro-transmitters to communicate, and a great variety of molecules are known to fit the criteria to be classified as such. A process shared by all neuro-transmitters is their release by excocytosis, and we give an outline of the molecular events and protein complexes involved in this mechanism. Synthesis, transport, inactivation, and cellular signaling can be very diverse when different neuro-transmitters are compared, and these processes are described separately for each neuro-transmitter system. Here we focus on the most well known neurotransmitters: acetyl-choline, catechol-amines (dopamine and nor-adrenalin), indole-amine (serotonin), glutamate, and γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA). Glutamate is the major excitatory neuro-transmitter in the brain and its actions are counter-balanced by GABA, which is the major inhibitory substance in the CNS. A balance of neuronal transmission between these two neuro-transmitters is essential to normal brain function. Acetyl-choline, serotonin and catechol-amines have a more modulatory function in the brain, being involved in many neuronal circuits. Apart from summarizing the current knowledge about the synthesis, release and receptor signaling of these transmitters, some disease states due to alteration of their normal neuro-transmission are also described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)796-840
Number of pages45
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA)
  • Acetyl-choline
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Catechol-amines
  • Glutamate
  • Indole-amine
  • Learning and memory
  • Neuro-transmitters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuro-transmitters in the central nervous system & their implication in learning and memory processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this