Muscarinic receptors as targets for anti-inflammatory therapy

Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2010 Nov;11(11):1239-45.


ACh, the main neurotransmitter in the neuronal cholinergic system, is synthesized by pre-ganglionic fibers of the sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous system and by post-ganglionic parasympathetic fibers. There is increasing experimental evidence that ACh is widely expressed in prokaryotic and eukaryotic non-neuronal cells. The neuronal and non-neuronal cholinergic systems comprise ACh, choline acetyltransferase and cholinesterase, enzymes that synthesize and catabolize ACh, and the nicotinic and muscarinic ACh receptors (nAChRs and mAChRs, respectively), which are the targets for ACh action. This review analyzes the participation of the cholinergic system, particularly through mAChRs, in inflammation, and discusses the role of the different mAChR antagonists that have been used to treat skin inflammatory disorders, asthma and COPD, as well as intestinal inflammation and systemic inflammatory diseases, to assess the potential application of these compounds as therapeutic tools.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't