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Open Access Open Badges Research article

A solvable model for the diffusion and reaction of neurotransmitters in a synaptic junction

Jorge L Barreda and Huan-Xiang Zhou*

Author Affiliations

Department of Physics and Institute of Molecular Biophysics, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, USA

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BMC Biophysics 2011, 4:5  doi:10.1186/2046-1682-4-5

Published: 2 March 2011



The diffusion and reaction of the transmitter acetylcholine in neuromuscular junctions and the diffusion and binding of Ca2+ in the dyadic clefts of ventricular myocytes have been extensively modeled by Monte Carlo simulations and by finite-difference and finite-element solutions. However, an analytical solution that can serve as a benchmark for testing these numerical methods has been lacking.


Here we present an analytical solution to a model for the diffusion and reaction of acetylcholine in a neuromuscular junction and for the diffusion and binding of Ca2+ in a dyadic cleft. Our model is similar to those previously solved numerically and our results are also qualitatively similar.


The analytical solution provides a unique benchmark for testing numerical methods and potentially provides a new avenue for modeling biochemical transport.