In the lungs, acetylcholine released from the parasympathetic nerves stimulates M3 muscarinic receptors on airway smooth muscle inducing contraction and bronchoconstriction. The amount of acetylcholine released from these nerves is limited locally by neuronal M2 muscarinic receptors. These neuronal receptors are dysfunctional in asthma and in animal models of asthma. Decreased M2 muscarinic receptor function results in increased release of acetylcholine and in airway hyperreactivity. Inflammation has long been associated with hyperreactivity and the role of inflammatory cells in loss of neuronal M2 receptor function has been examined. There are several different mechanisms for loss of neuronal M2 receptor function. These include blockade by endogenous antagonists such as eosinophil major basic protein, decreased expression of M2 receptors following infection with viruses or exposure to pro inflammatory cytokines such as gamma interferon. Finally, the affinity of acetylcholine for these receptors can be decreased by exposure to neuraminidase.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)