sensory receptor

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sensory receptor

Etymology: L, sentire, to feel, recipere, to receive
a specialized nerve ending that, when stimulated, initiates an afferent or sensory nerve impulse.

sensory receptor

A sensory nerve ending, a cell or group of cells, or a sense organ that when stimulated produces an afferent or sensory impulse.


Exteroreceptors are receptors located on or near the surface that respond to stimuli from the outside world. They include eye and ear receptors (for remote stimuli) and touch, temperature, and pain receptors (for contact). Interoceptors are those in the mucous linings of the respiratory and digestive tracts that respond to internal stimuli; also called visceroceptors. Proprioceptors are those responding to stimuli arising within body tissues.

Receptors also are classified according to the nature of stimuli to which they respond. These include chemoreceptors, which respond to chemicals (taste buds, olfactory cells, receptors in aortic and carotid bodies); pressoreceptors, which respond to pressure (receptors in the aortic and carotid sinuses); photoreceptors, which respond to light (rods and cones); and tactile receptors, which respond to touch (Meissner corpuscle).

See also: receptor

sensory receptor



1. a molecule on the surface or within a cell that recognizes and binds with specific molecules, producing some effect in the cell, e.g. the cell-surface receptors of immunocompetent cells that recognize antigens, complement components or lymphokines, or those of neurons and target organs that recognize neurotransmitters or hormones; see also opioid receptors.
2. a sensory nerve ending that responds to various stimuli, e.g. arterial stretch, baroreceptors, cold, Golgi tendon organs, joint, muscle and tendon, olfactory, retinal, taste and warmth.

receptor activation
the cell of a sensory receptor responds to a specific energy change in its environment and initiates a corresponding sensory input.
adrenergic r's
receptors for epinephrine or norepinephrine, such as those on effector organs innervated by postganglionic adrenergic fibers of the sympathetic nervous system. Classified as α-adrenergic receptors, which are stimulated by norepinephrine, and β-adrenergic receptors, which are stimulated by epinephrine. See also adrenergic receptors.
autonomic r's
includes adrenergic and muscarinic receptors.
cholinergic r's
receptor sites on effector organs innervated by cholinergic nerve fibers and which respond to the acetylcholine secreted by these fibers. There are two types: muscarinic receptors and nicotinic receptors.
complement receptor
a cell-surface receptor capable of binding activated complement components. For example, component C3b is bound to neutrophils, B lymphocytes and macrophages.
dopamine r's
there are dopamine-inhibitory and dopamine-excitatory receptors.
drug receptor
a component of tissue with which a drug reacts. Classified according to the type of drugs that react with them.
Fc receptor
bind immunoglobulins via Fc part of the molecule.
histamine r's
receptors for histamine, classified as H1-receptors, which produce bronchoconstriction and contraction of the gut and are blocked by antihistamines, such as mepyramine or chlorpheniramine, and H2-receptors, which produce gastric acid secretion and are blocked by H2-receptor blockers, such as cimetidine.
muscarinic receptor
see muscarinic receptors.
nicotinic receptor
see nicotinic receptors.
peripheral receptor
sensory receptors including cutaneous warm and cold, dermoreceptors touch and pain plus receptors in the mucosae.
sensory receptor
an endorgan at the end of an afferent neuron which is capable of stimulation by a specific change, physical or chemical, in the internal or external environment of the patient.
toll-like r's
a family of transmembrane proteins that differentially recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns through an extra cellular domain and initiate inflammatory signaling pathways through an intracellular domain; they play a central role in the innate immune response to pathogens.
receptor tyrosine kinases
a large class of cell-surface receptors with tyrosine-specific protein kinase activity.


pertaining to sensation.

equine sensory ataxia
see enzootic equine incoordination.
sensory input
produced by sensory organs and transmitted by afferent nerve fibers to the central nervous system. See also sense.
sensory nerve
a peripheral nerve that conducts impulses from a sense organ to the spinal cord or brain; called also afferent nerve. See also nerve.
sensory neuropathy
see hereditary sensory neuropathy.
sensory paralytic urinary bladder
see atonic neurogenic urinary bladder.
sensory perceptivity
the ability to perceive, to feel. Tests for this in animals are based on the assumption that the observer can differentiate between a reflex response and a central perception.
sensory receptor
see sensory receptor.
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