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Event Title

Acetylcholine in synapses, Accumulation
Short name: Acetylcholine in synapses, Accumulation

Key Event Overview

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AOPs Including This Key Event

AOP Name Event Type Essentiality
Acetylcholinesterase inhibition leading to acute mortality KE Strong

Taxonomic Applicability

Name Scientific Name Evidence Links

Level of Biological Organization

Biological Organization

How this Key Event works

  • Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is stored in nerve endings at cholinergic synapses in the central sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (Soreq and Seidman, 2001; Lushington 2006).
  • Aceytlcholine can bind multiple types of nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. The downstream consequences of those events are tissue and receptor-specific.
  • Aceytlcholine can play an excitatory or inhibitory role in neurotransmission depending on context.
    • At neuromuscular junctions, its role is primarily excitatory, leading to muscle contraction.
    • In cardiac tissue, its role is primarily inhibitory, leading to reduced contraction and lower heart rate.

How it is Measured or Detected

Acetylcholine can be measured using several techniques including the Hestrin method (Augustinsson 1957), molecular probes (e.g., Amplex Red Assay kit - http://tools.lifetechnologies.com/content/sfs/manuals/mp12217.pdf), or via microdialysis techniques (Zapata et al., 2009).

Evidence Supporting Taxonomic Applicability

Acetylcholine and cholinergic receptors are found in invertebrate and vertebrate species.


  • Augustinsson, K.B. 1957. In: Glick,D.(Ed.); Methods of Biochemical Analysis, Interscience Publishers, Inc., New York, NY.
  • Zapata, A., V.I. Chefer, T.S. Shippenberg, and L. Denoroy. 2009. Detection and quantification of neurotransmitters in dialysates. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. Chapter 7:Unit 7.4.1-30.