Methodological Approaches In Neuronal nAChR Research

Present understanding of nAChRs in the periphery results from the endeavors of several decades of research, utilizing almost every conceivable neurobiological technique, ranging from molecular studies of nAChR genes and their distribution to functional studies of their role in peripheral tissues (Cordero-Erausquin et al., 2000; Grando and Horton, 1997; Wessler et al., 1998, 1999). The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate how a range of techniques has contributed to this field of research. Brief explanations of the techniques utilized with a consideration of the problems and pitfalls will be given; however, for an exhaustive account of methods readers are referred to specialized technical references for this purpose.

4.2.1 Classical Pharmacology Studies of Peripheral Neuronal nAChRs

The earliest studies hinting at the non-uniformity of peripheral neuronal nAChRs and suggestive of specialized nAChR subtypes for performing specific functions came from the use of pharmacological tools, namely agonists, antagonists, and radiolabeled ligands for nAChR binding sites.

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