Receptors are molecules that are found inside or on a cell. They serve as “docking stations” for other molecules, such as hormones like leptin. When that particular molecule bumps into a receptor, it fits almost like a key inside of a lock. Once joined, the receptor is triggered to change its shape which in turn, alters part of a cell’s activity. Receptors can be massed together to form a sense organ like the ear or eye or might be scattered, such as those of the viscera and skin.

In some cases, if a cell doesn’t have the right receptor for a certain substance, that substance won’t affect it. For example, cells that have receptors for leptin, the hormone that causes you to feel full after a meal, will respond to it, which inhibits the release of hormones known to make you want to eat more. Cells that don’t have receptors won’t respond to it, which means you may not feel satiated after eating.

When scientists are trying to create new medicines, they often design chemicals specifically to fit certain receptors in the hopes of treating a medical condition or disease. Your DNA determines how many and what type of receptors you have which can affect your response to a medication.

Receptor Types

  • Pain receptors are stimulated when tissues are damaged
  • Photoreceptors are stimulated by light energy
  • Thermoreceptors are stimulated by temperature changes
  • Chemoreceptors are stimulated by changes in chemical concentrations of substances
  • Mechanoreceptors are stimulated by changes in movement or pressure

Effects of Substances on Various Receptors

The many different receptors in the body can be affected by various substances.

  • Nootropics increase dopamine receptor levels in the brain to improve functioning
  • Uridine and CDP Choline promote the growth of new dopamine receptors
  • GABA affects the brain’s GABA receptor, producing a calming effect