FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Loss of vagally mediated bradycardia and bronchoconstriction in mice lacking M2 or M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors.

PMID 14977875


The presence of multiple muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) subtypes in the heart and lung, combined with the lack of mAChR subtype-selective ligands, have complicated the task of identifying the mAChR subtypes mediating cardiac slowing (bradycardia) and airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction) due to vagal innervation. To determine which of the five mAChRs are responsible for the cholinergic control of heart rate and airway caliber in vivo, we performed experiments on mutant mice lacking the two prime candidates for such control, the M2 or M3 mAChR. Here, we report that in vivo, bradycardia caused by vagal stimulation or administration of the muscarinic agonist methacholine (MCh) was abolished in mice lacking functional M2 mAChRs (M2-/- mice). In contrast, heart rate responses remained unchanged in M3 receptor-deficient mice (M3-/- mice). The reduced hypotensive response of M3-/- mice to MCh suggests M3 mAChRs contribute to peripheral vasodilation. The M2-/- mice showed significantly enhanced in vivo bronchoconstrictor responses to vagal stimulation or MCh administration. In contrast, bronchoconstrictor responses were totally abolished in M3-/- mice. Because altered cardiac or pulmonary vagal tone is involved in a number of pathophysiological conditions, including cardiac arrhythmias, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, these results should be of considerable therapeutic relevance.

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Acetyl-β-methylcholine bromide, ≥99%