Retinoic acid prevents virus-induced airway hyperreactivity and M 2 receptor dysfunction via anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects

Liliana Moreno-Vinasco, Norah G. Verbout, Allison D. Fryer, David B. Jacoby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Inhibitory M2 muscarinic receptors on airway parasympathetic nerves normally limit acetylcholine release. Viral infections decrease M 2 receptor function, increasing vagally mediated bronchoconstriction. Since retinoic acid deficiency causes M2 receptor dysfunction, we tested whether retinoic acid would prevent virus-induced airway hyperreactivity and prevent M2 receptor dysfunction. Guinea pigs infected with parainfluenza virus were hyperreactive to electrical stimulation of the vagus nerves, but not to intravenous acetylcholine, indicating that hyperreactivity was due to increased release of acetylcholine from parasympathetic nerves. The muscarinic agonist pilocarpine, which inhibits vagally mediated bronchoconstriction in control animals, no longer inhibited vagally induced bronchoconstriction, demonstrating M2 receptor dysfunction. Treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (1 mg/kg) prevented virus-induced hyperreactivity and M2 receptor dysfunction. However, retinoic acid also significantly reduced viral titers in the lungs and attenuated virus-induced lung inflammation. In vitro, retinoic acid decreased M2 receptor mRNA expression in both human neuroblastoma cells and primary cultures of airway parasympathetic neurons. Thus, the protective effects of retinoic acid on airway function during viral infection appear to be due to anti-inflammatory and antiviral mechanisms, rather than to direct effects on M2 receptor gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L340-L346
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Asthma
  • Cholinergic
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parasympathetic
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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