Use of muscarinic agonists in the treatment of Sjögren's syndrome

Clin Immunol. 2001 Dec;101(3):249-63. doi: 10.1006/clim.2001.5128.


Two muscarinic agonists (pilocarpine and cevimeline) have recently been approved for the treatment of symptoms of xerostomia in Sjögren's syndrome (SS). These agents stimulate the M1 and M3 receptors present on salivary glands, leading to increased secretory function. The use of these agents emphasizes the importance of neuroendocrine mechanisms in SS, which is considered an autoimmune disorder. We review recent studies on the release of cytokines and metalloproteinases in SS-affected glands and their influence on the release of and response to neurotransmitters. Also, we review the structure and function of muscarinic receptors as they may relate to SS and the potential use of novel muscarinic agonists in SS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscarinic Agonists / metabolism
  • Muscarinic Agonists / pharmacology
  • Muscarinic Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism
  • Pilocarpine / metabolism
  • Pilocarpine / pharmacology
  • Pilocarpine / therapeutic use
  • Quinuclidines / metabolism
  • Quinuclidines / pharmacology
  • Quinuclidines / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / metabolism
  • Thiophenes*


  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Quinuclidines
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Thiophenes
  • Pilocarpine
  • cevimeline