Diseases of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) include a large spectrum of
acquired and inherited disorders mainly characterized by fluctuating muscle
weakness and fatigability of ocular, bulbar or limb muscles. Remarkable
progress has been made in our understanding of the pathogenesis of these
disorders in recent years.
This book is intended to provide an overview of the pharmacology of neurotransmitter
release. Neurotransmitter release initiates synaptic transmission, the major
mechanism by which neurons communicate with each other and with effector cells.
This chapter will concentrate on the mechanisms by which drugs alter neurotransmission
of relevance to the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
■ The major site of action for drugs used in psychiatry is the synapse and in particular
those utilising amines or amino acids as neurotransmitters.
■ The majority of the drugs act either presynaptically to influence levels of the
neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft, or by altering the functional state of the