5 Difference between Adrenergic and Cholinergic (With Table)

There are many systems in human bodies that make it possible for various functions to be performed effectively enhancing the functioning of the body.

Adrenergic and cholinergic are some of the systems that are very essential although people use the words interchangeably.

They are both pathways of the nervous system that controls all the involuntary works of our body. The two work differently hence the difference in their functioning.

So, what is the main difference between adrenergic and cholinergic? The adrenergic pathway involves the use of neurotransmitters; adrenaline and noradrenalin while the cholinergic pathway involves the use of acetylcholine neurotransmitters.

For information about the difference between adrenergic and cholinergic in tabular form, continue reading the article. You will also get to learn of the similarities between the two

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Comparison Table (Adrenergic vs Cholinergic)

Basic TermsAdrenergic Cholinergic
Neurotransmitters involvedAdrenaline and noradrenalin are involved.It involves acetylcholine neurotransmitters.
Part of the nervous system associatedIt is associated with the sympathetic nervous system.It is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system.
Effect on heartIt stimulates faster activity.It down-regulates activity.
TypesThey are of two types; alpha and beta receptors.They are of two types; nicotinic and muscarinic.
ResponsibilityIt is responsible for flight response by releasing adrenaline.It is responsible for digest and rest response.
Working of receptorG-protein coupled receptor.Inotropic-ligand-gated and metabotropic receptors.

What is Adrenergic?

Adrenergic receptors are autonomous receptors that bind to adrenalin and noradrenalin. It is part of the sympathetic nervous system that houses the adrenergic receptors.

It is a pathway that contains neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters include adrenalin and noradrenalin.

They are responsible for the body’s fight or flight response. It releases catecholamine adrenalin from the adrenal glands which cause the response.

The sympathetic nerve endings in the heart bind with the neurotransmitters to increase the activity of the heart.

It also improves the temporary performance of the body by directing blood from unimportant organs to skeletal muscles. It also dilates the pupil, increases blood pressure, and expands the lung cavity.

It is of two types; alpha and beta. They are further divided based on the function and the effect they have on the human body.

What is Cholinergic?

Cholinergic receptors are autonomic receptors that bind to acetylcholine.  It is a pathway that is related to the parasympathetic nervous system.

They are regarded as inotropic and metabotropic and are activated by the neurotransmitter which is acetylcholine.

There are two main cholinergic receptors which include nicotinic and muscarinic. Its responsibility is to drive the digest and rest responses in the body.

Cholinergic is part of both the somatic and autonomic nervous systems. Nicotinic receptors bind to nicotine while muscarinic receptors bind to the muscarine.

The receptors are found all over the body but they mainly target organs such as sensory organs, respiratory tract, heart, eyes, and gastrointestinal tract.

The parasympathetic nerve endings in the heart are responsible for the cholinergic effects on it. Acetylcholine binds to these receptors in the heart which down-regulates the heart functions.

Main Difference between Adrenergic and Cholinergic

  1. Adrenergic receptors involve adrenalin and noradrenalin while cholinergic receptors involve acetylcholine.
  2. Adrenergic is associated with the sympathetic nervous system while cholinergic is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system.
  3. Adrenergic stimulates the faster activity of the heart while cholinergic down-regulates the activity of the heart.
  4. Adrenergic is responsible for flight response while cholinergic is responsible for digest and rest response.
  5. Adrenergic is an autonomic nervous system while cholinergic comprise both autonomic and somatic nervous systems.

Similarities between Adrenergic and cholinergic

  1. Both are autonomic receptors.
  2. Both respond to neurotransmitters.
  3. Both trigger nerve impulses.

Conclusion

Adrenergic and cholinergic are receptors in the human body that are responsible for transmitting nerve impulses to different parts of the body.

However, the two function differently. The main difference between adrenergic and cholinergic receptors is that adrenergic are responsible for fight or flight by releasing adrenalin while cholinergic are responsible for digest and rest responses.

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