We explain what the synapse is and the types of synapses that exist. In addition, diseases that can affect this process.
What is the synapse?
A specialized intercellular approach process , which is carried out between two neurons , or a neuron and another cell (effector or receptor) is known as synapse . In this process the transmission of a nerve impulse occurs, which is why it is often also known as a nervous synapse or even an electric synapse, given the electromagnetic nature of said transmission.
The synapse is key in the process of management and control of the body. It begins with a chemical discharge within the membrane of the emitting cell (neuron), which becomes an electric current transmitted along the neuronal axons and that releases certain chemical compounds called neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and acetylcholine, among others) that excite or inhibit the functions of the recipient cell.
Through the synapse the neurons control the various chemical and physical processes of the body , which allows their synchronization (activation and inhibition at convenience) and occurs in three types of stimulation:
- Excitatory transmission . The one that initiates processes or increases the action potential.
- Inhibiting transmission . The one that stops processes or diminishes the action potential.
- Moduladora transmission . The one that alters the pattern or frequency of the cellular activity in question.
Types of synapses
There are two different types of synapses, which are:
- Electric synapse . This type does not involve neurotransmitters, but the transmission of one neuron to another of ions ( electrically charged molecules ) through gap junctions: protein connections between closely adhered cells. This type of synapse is bidirectional and allows neuronal synchronization, as well as being faster than the chemical synapse.
- Chemical synapse . This type occurs between cells separated by a space no larger than 20-30 nanometers, known as synaptic cleft, and occurs through the release and reception of neurotransmitters, the result of a very rapid cellular secretion process. It is unidirectional and somewhat slower than electric.
Diseases that affect the synapse
Some ailments of the human body prevent or hinder the correct neuronal synapse, thus influencing the control that the nervous system exerts on the various functions, voluntary or not, of the organism. Some of these ailments are:
- Parkinson ‘s disease . Degenerative disorder, of the congenital type, which consists in the inhibition of the sufficient secretion of dopamine, a substance that guarantees the correct muscular movement, which translates into tremors, weakness and uncontrolled limbs
- Epilepsy . It is a desynchronization of the inhibitory and excitatory impulses of the synapse, increasing electrical work and generating hyperexcitation states, whose impact on the nervous system is progressive and inevitable deterioration.
- Alzheimer’s . This disease arises from the formation of cortisol plaques between neurons of the cerebral cortex, preventing synapses and deteriorating both the ability to reason, language and formation of recent memories.