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> Neurotransmitters, receptors and psychoactives
UberNoodle
post Jan 19, 2011, 09:08 AM
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Hello,

I stumbled upon this board in my research. It seems like exactly what I need! I have questions about neurotransmitters and psychoactive drugs. I'm not studying or in the field of Neuroscience, however. I'm an English teacher and writer. I'm hoping that somebody could at least point me in the right direction or give me a general answer, if they have time.

Could a fictional neural transmitter in one kind of creature affect another kind of creature as a psychoactive chemical? In the first group creatures, the chemical serves an integral purpose in their proper brain functioning. However, in the second group the same chemical is recieved like a drug.

I understand that neurotransmitters require specific receptors. Do psychoactive drugs require the same. Do our brains have explicit receptors for each of the active chemicals in those drugs? I understand that for THC we do. Is that an example of an exception or the rule? My grasp of all this is that psychoactives work by reducing, increasing, blocking, or 'impersonating' naturally occurring neurotransmitters.

I ask this because if both creatures require the receptors for that chemical, then would it make sense that the same chemical is received in wildly different ways?

As a bonus question, I remember reading about some kids years and year ago who tried Speed and unfortunately it was not what it should have been. In the end result was that the gland (?) that produces the neurotransmitter for voluntary muscle movement was destroyed or severely damaged, ultimately "freezing" the kids like statues. I saw more about it on a 60 Minutes, I think. To cure it, glands from pigs were grafted onto the kids brains, but the glands would deteriorate over time, giving the kids symptoms like Parkinson's Disease. Does this sound right to you?

Too many questions? Sorry! I hope someone can assist me!

UberNoodle
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Kazan
post Jan 19, 2011, 05:50 PM
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1. If neurons in the brain have receptor they must be for a neurotransmitters naturally produced the brain for a particular role. I t cannot be purposeless since it developed through evolution.

2. Your understanding of psychoactive drugs is correct. The brain does not have receptors for specifically and only for an extraneous substance and that applies to THC. Any extraneous substance that is psychoactive must be supplanting/subverting the action of a normally occurring and existing neurotransmitter.
3. For Science Fiction, it could be postulated that a similar constituted brain, such as that of another hominid, ape or monkey like creature, a neurotransmitter equivalent substance for one creature, whether natural or psychotropic, could lock into a “different” purpose receptor and produce wildly unusual effects.

4. Extrapolating to extremes for Science Fiction it could be posited that a neurotransmitter for one life form could act in psychotropic forms on another very different life form (extraterrestrial, alien, etc.); that being the case for humans for substance derived from plants or fungi.

5. Glands are part of the endocrine systems and produce hormones; they do not produce neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are produced by the body (soma) of neurons. Hormones are not psychotropic except perhaps in a very, very indirect way.

6. The” bonus question matter” is not scientific it appears very apocryphal.
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UberNoodle
post Jan 19, 2011, 06:56 PM
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WOW! Thanks a lot for the help there! You've made my day!

So, the neuraltransmitters are made in the neurons and glands are for hormones. That's an important extra that is good to know.

Thanks for your breakdown of the points.

Uber

EDIT:

I got this from another source, RE the 'frozen drug takers': "the story is of a chemistry student who made a synthetic opiate (mimicking one of those defence chemicals from poppies!) known as MPPP for recreational use. It's a difficult molecule to make and the final product was contaminated with a related compound, MPTP. When injected the MPTP was converted into a cell-killing chemical by an enzyme in some cells of the brain - the same cells that are wiped out by Parkinson's disease, although they don't die from MPTP poisoning in "natural" Parkinson's. The student, and a later group of people who tried another contaminated batch, essentially got instant Parkinson's. The MPTP killed the neurons of the substantia nigra, removing its essential role in movement, which is part of a circuit which gets movements started. Inability to start movements is probably the main symptom of PD - the hand tremors and lack of facial expression are other signs of this fundamental imbalance in the control systems.

Anyway, the people who injected the contaminated MPPP became immobile almost immediately, and were later described as "the frozen addicts". Some of them were later treated by injecting the brain with foetal stem cells which were able to transform into new cells making dopamine, the neurotransmitter previously made by the now-dead substantia nigra cells. I don't think the stem cells came from pigs though - they were human as far as I'm aware. Maybe there is some hope that pig-derived foetal tissue might be able to substitute for human in future."
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Flex
post Jan 26, 2011, 11:37 PM
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QUOTE(Kazan @ Jan 19, 2011, 05:50 PM) *


5. Glands are part of the endocrine systems and produce hormones; they do not produce neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are produced by the body (soma) of neurons. Hormones are not psychotropic except perhaps in a very, very indirect way.




Small note: just as serotonin is converted to melatonin, the reverse reaction is also true. Exposure to UV light has been linked to serotonin production. This said, glands can produce neurotransmitters smile.gif

Neurotransmitters from one organism, acting in a very different manner in another organism: yep this actually occurs in nature. When scientists do studies with drosophila (flies), they have to verify their findings in mammals (ideally humans). Muscle contraction in humans is induced by the action of acetylcholine--in drosophila, glutamate. Both humans and drosophila have glutamate and acetylcholine receptors, and thus the same neurotransmitter is responsible for different functions depending on the organism.
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