What Is the Role of Acetylcholine in a Skeletal Muscle Contraction?

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Fellow scientists and future medical team, this question had baffled scientists over a decade that how is it possible that just by thinking, we can move our legs, our hands and wink at each other or twirl our fingers and we arrived at the conclusion after the 1960s and it was still as amazing as it sounded to be. 

Everything in our body is made up of chemicals and cells. Chemicals are what drives us in our day to day life, to hear, to see, to touch and feel things. Chemicals are what is making life possible and what moved our muscles was also a chemical compound. 

Let’s discuss the different questions as to what neurotransmitters are and what are the types of muscles. Many people have asked me questions regarding this topic and I have compiled them in a list so that it would be easy for everyone. Here comes the first question:-

How do we move our muscles?

Ans. Learning science is always about asking questions that are thought to be very insignificant and yet they hold the key to understanding life. Even if you ask a third-grader, they would answer that it is by your mind that you can move things and use your muscles. 

But, ask the same thing to a post-graduate and he would be mesmerised because we still don’t know the actual driving force and what compels the chemicals to move. This is the vast difference between intellect and I’ll keep the answers in between so that anyone can understand. 

As for the question of how we move our muscles, it is as mentioned before. Chemicals. They are present inside the muscles and they act on our impulses. 

Why can’t I move my heart? 

Ans. This is another phenomenal question that was asked on the internet. As for those who are non-vegetarian, they must have known that it is all the same whether you take the heart or the leg. It’s all meat. And if it’s the same, why can’t we move our hearts or tell them to stop but can twirl our fingers?

Well, muscles are chunks of meat available in our bodies. We do have a lot but we can’t move a certain type and then we can for a certain type. Apart from bodybuilders, can you move the muscle of your thigh? Or vibrate your skin on your back like how cows do?

Your answer would be a huge no. This is because the muscles that make up your biceps and triceps are different from those you cannot move, such as your heart. Your hands and legs are made up of skeletal muscles and your heart is made up of cardiac muscles and the muscles that make up your stomach and the internal organs are made up of smooth muscles. 

The difference between all of them is that you can either move them or you don’t have any control over them. This could be stated as voluntary muscles and involuntary muscles for a better understanding. 

What are the chemicals that move our muscles?

Ans. To study the science of chemicals and chemical compounds feels like alchemy. You would have to first know the exact proportions that they are present to make sure that they work properly. 

When we talk about the simple act of moving our muscles, they move because we exert a certain kind of willpower into them. That we want to move it. Consider your finger and you want to lift the same. Now how would the process happen? 

Firstly, I hope you understand that because of your body structure, you can only move a certain part of your body voluntarily. So you have to first think about moving your body. Now exert some pressure and it did move. How but?

Just as you would need wires to move a certain part of a machine, you need neurons to make sure that you are transmitting the same amount of chemicals required to lift your finger. Otherwise, it would be disastrous. 

These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are present inside the neurons which help them carry electrical impulses to initiate a voluntary action. 

What is the role of acetylcholine? 

Ans. Acetylcholine is another chemical in the long list of neurotransmitters. It is the chemical responsible for our movement and makes sure that we move properly. Any damage to this chemical would result in serious conditions of the body. As to how it works, here’s an exact detail. 

There are certain receptors that are present in the body that take commands from our nervous system. Such receptors are present on the skeletal muscles too. These receptors are what makes them do what you intend to do. 

Acetylcholine choline is one such neurotransmitter that has the ability to make muscles move. Let’s talk about our previous example. So you want to lift your finger. The acetylcholine would be released into the cells of the muscle fibres and would cause a huge release of sodium ions into the fibres. 

Now, these sodium ions being positively charged would create an influx like a wave into the fibre. This wave would now travel through the T-tube. This T-tube would now disturb the calcium ions stored inside the cells to be released into the cytoplasm. 

What happens after acetylcholine is released? 

Ans. As mentioned before, it creates an influx of sodium ions. If you cannot imagine the same, consider your hand to be acetylcholine and you shoot electric current into the water which is completely static and still. This would generate huge waves inside the water.

This would cause the whole container to move. Now, some water would spill out and go somewhere else. This is what happens when an influx of sodium occurs and it is pushed inside the T-tube. This now causes the owner of the water container to wake up which is the calcium and is said to handle the situation. 

Now in medical terms, calcium then binds onto the muscle fibres which are known as troponin with the help of ATP. ATP is the energy currency of the cell and of course, you won’t be able to move unless you have energy. 

So, as long as the initiation for the potential is, the sodium ions would continue to cause waves and the calcium ions would bind to troponin momentarily with the help of ATP to move the muscle fibres. Once you stop thinking about lifting your fingers, the initiation would stop causing the muscle to stop moving.