The excitable behaviour of neurons is determined by the activity of their endogenous membrane ion channels. Since muscarinic receptors are not themselves ion channels, the acute effects of muscarinic receptor stimulation on neuronal function are governed by the effects of the receptors on these endogenous neuronal ion channels. This review considers some principles and factors determining the interaction between subtypes and classes of muscarinic receptors with neuronal ion channels, and summarizes the effects of muscarinic receptor stimulation on a number of different channels, the mechanisms of receptor – channel transduction and their direct consequences for neuronal activity. Ion channels considered include potassium channels (voltage-gated, inward rectifier and calcium activated), voltage-gated calcium channels, cation channels and chloride channels.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘Neuropharmacology on Muscarinic Receptors’.