Molecular neurobiology

The Role of Acetylcholine in the Inflammatory Response in Animals Surviving Sepsis Induced by Cecal Ligation and Puncture.

PMID 26637327


The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway controls the inflammatory response and nonreflexive consciousness through bidirectional communication between the brain and immune system. Moreover, brain acetylcholinesterase activity may have a role in regulating the vagus nerve in this pathway. Thus, we analyzed the role of acetylcholine (ACh) in the inflammatory response 15xa0days after induction of sepsis by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Balb/c mice were pretreated with or without donepezil (5xa0mg/kg/day, orally) 7xa0days before CLP, and mice homozygous for vesicular ACh transporter (VAChT) knockdown (KD) were subjected to CLP. All animals were sacrificed 15xa0days after CLP, and the plasma, spleen, and hippocampus were collected. Characterization of splenic lymphocytes and cytokine levels in the plasma, spleen, and hippocampus was determined. Our results showed a splenomegaly in group CLP. The numbers of cytotoxic T cells, helper T cells, regulatory T cells, B cells, and Th17 cells differed between mice subjected to CLP and to sham operation in both untreated and donepezil-treated groups. In VAChT-KD mice, CLP resulted in decreased cytotoxic and helper T cells and increased in Th17 cells compared with the sham. Additionally, in VAChT-KD mice, the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, were increased following CLP. Thus, we concluded that ACh affected the inflammatory response at 15xa0days after CLP since stimulation of cholinergic transmission increased the proliferation of lymphocytes, including regulatory T cells, in association with a lower inflammatory profile and VAChT-KD decreased the number of lymphocytes and increased inflammation.