Pharmacological cholinergic blockade stimulates inflammatory cytokine production and lymphocytic infiltration in the mouse lacrimal gland

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 May 16;52(6):3221-7. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4212.


Purpose: To investigate the effects of cholinergic blockade on inflammatory cell infiltration and cytokine production in the mouse lacrimal gland (LG).

Methods: C57BL/6 mice were untreated (UT) or received subcutaneous injections of either scopolamine hydrobromide (SCOP; 0.5 mg/0.2 mL) or saline (SAL) four times daily for 2 or 5 days (2D, 5D). This was followed by a 7-day rest period in separate groups. Tear volume (cotton thread) and tear epidermal growth factor (EGF, by ELISA) concentrations were measured. Extraorbital LGs were surgically excised and sectioned or lysed for gene expression analysis. Immunohistochemistry evaluated immunophenotype of infiltrating cells. Expression of EGF and T helper (Th)-1, -2, and -17-associated cytokines in LGs was evaluated by real-time PCR. Goblet cell density was evaluated in periodic acid Schiff-stained conjunctival sections.

Results: Tear volume and EGF protein levels were significantly reduced in SCOP5D mice compared with controls, indicating that cholinergic blockade decreased LG secretory function. LGs of SCOP2D and SCOP5D mice showed an increased density of CD4(+), CD11c+, CD11b+, and myeloperoxidase+ cells compared with UT controls. At day 5, these cells were significantly elevated compared with SAL-treated counterparts. Elevated levels of IL-17A, IL-17R, IFN-γ, IL-12Rβ1, IL-2, IL-13, IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α transcripts were noted in SCOP2D mice and IFN-γ, TGF-β1, and IL-18R transcripts in SCOP5D mice.

Conclusions: Pharmacological blockade of lacrimal secretion induced a significant CD4(+) infiltration in the LG, mimicking Sjögren's syndrome. The mRNA expression profile revealed elevations of a mix of inflammatory cytokines and Th-1-associated factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Lacrimal Apparatus / drug effects*
  • Lacrimal Apparatus / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Scopolamine / pharmacology*
  • Tears / metabolism


  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Scopolamine