The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Cholinergic stimulation of amylase secretion from pancreatic acinar cells studied with muscarinic acetylcholine receptor mutant mice.

PMID 15764735


Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) expressed by pancreatic acinar cells play an important role in mediating acetylcholine-dependent stimulation of digestive enzyme secretion. To examine the potential roles of M(1) and M(3) mAChRs in this activity, we used M(1) and M(3) receptor single knockout (KO) and M(1)/M(3) receptor double KO mice as novel experimental tools. Specifically, we examined the ability of the muscarinic agonist carbachol to stimulate amylase secretion in vitro, using dispersed pancreatic acini prepared from wild-type and mAChR mutant mice. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction studies using RNA prepared from mouse pancreatic acini showed that deletion of the M(1) or M(3) mAChR genes did not lead to significantly altered mRNA levels of the remaining mAChR subtypes. Moreover, immunoprecipitation studies with M(1) and M(3) mAChR-selective antisera demonstrated that both mAChR subtypes are expressed by mouse pancreatic acini. Strikingly, carbachol-induced stimulation of amylase secretion was significantly impaired in acinar preparations from both M(1) and M(3) receptor single KO mice and abolished in acinar preparations from M(1)/M(3) receptor double KO mice. However, another pancreatic secretagogue, bombesin, retained its ability to fully stimulate amylase secretion in acinar preparations from M(1)/M(3) receptor double KO mice. Together, these studies support the concept that cholinergic stimulation of pancreatic amylase secretion is mediated by a mixture of M(1) and M(3) mAChRs and that other mAChR subtypes do not make a significant contribution to this activity. These findings clarify the long-standing question regarding the molecular nature of the mAChR subtypes mediating the secretion of digestive enzymes from the exocrine pancreas.

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