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TLDR: Acetylcholine is a chemical in our bodies that helps our brain and muscles communicate. It's involved in things like memory, attention, and muscle movement.

Acetylcholine is an organic compound that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and body. It gets its name from its chemical structure, which is a combination of acetic acid and choline. Acetylcholine is used by different parts of the body that are referred to as "cholinergic." Substances that affect the activity of the cholinergic system are called cholinergics or anticholinergics.

In the nervous system, acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that motor neurons release to activate muscles. This means that it plays a crucial role in muscle movement. Drugs that affect the cholinergic system can have powerful effects on the body, ranging from paralysis to convulsions. Acetylcholine is also a neurotransmitter in the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions like heart rate and digestion.

In the brain, acetylcholine acts as both a neurotransmitter and a neuromodulator. It is involved in various functions such as arousal, attention, memory, and motivation. Acetylcholine has also been found in cells of non-neural origins and in microbes, suggesting that it has ancient origins.

Because of its role in muscle activation and its functions in the autonomic nervous system and brain, many important drugs work by altering cholinergic transmission. For example, certain venoms, toxins, and chemical nerve agents can harm the body by affecting the neuromuscular junction. Drugs that act on muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, such as atropine, can be poisonous in large doses but are commonly used to treat certain heart conditions and eye problems.

Acetylcholine is synthesized in certain neurons by the enzyme choline acetyltransferase. It is then broken down by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Disruption of the cholinergic system in the brain has been associated with memory deficits seen in Alzheimer's disease.

Overall, acetylcholine is a vital chemical in our bodies that helps with muscle movement, memory, attention, and other important functions. It is involved in both the central and peripheral nervous systems and plays a crucial role in our overall well-being.

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