The M4 muscarinic antagonist MT-3 inhibits myopia in chick: evidence for site of action

Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2011 Sep;31(5):529-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2011.00841.x. Epub 2011 May 3.


Purpose: It is well established that the broad-band muscarinic antagonist, atropine is effective at inhibiting the progression of myopia and does so by preventing the elongation of the vitreous chamber of the eye. However, uncertainty remains as to whether this effect occurs through a receptoral mechanism and, if so, which muscarinic receptor subtype mediates this effect. Previous work, in avian and mammalian models of myopia, implicates the M1 and M4 receptors as potential targets. The current study used physiologically relevant concentrations of highly selective muscarinic antagonists (MT-3 and MT-7) to further characterise the role of the M4 receptor in the control of myopia in the chick model of refractive development.

Methods: Nine groups of week-old chicks underwent 5 days of monocular deprivation, with a translucent occluder, to induce myopia. These animals had either no injection, scleral puncture with a needle, or daily intravitreal injections of MT-3 (M4-selective), MT-7 (M1-selective) or vehicle. Three concentrations of each antagonist were delivered (250 nm, 2.5 μm and 10 μm). After the treatment period, keratometry, retinoscopy and A-Scan ultrasound were used to assess ocular biometry.

Results: MT-3 treatment produced a significant dose-dependent reduction in relative myopia (treated-control eye) compared to vehicle treatment (vehicle -10.1 ± 1.1 D vs 10 μm MT-3 -4.0 ± 1.5 D, p < 0.01). The majority of this effect was due to reduced relative vitreous chamber elongation in drug treated eyes (vehicle +0.26 ± 0.04 mm, 10 μm MT-3 +0.08 ± 0.07 mm, p < 0.05). In contrast, MT-7 had no significant effect on the development of myopia (MT-7 10 μm: myopia, -12.1 ± 0.8 D and vitreous chamber depth, +0.23 ± 0.07 mm). Calculations indicate that the experimentally achieved concentrations of MT-3 at intraocular receptors necessary to inhibit 50% of myopia development (between 5 and 50 nm) were consistent with published in vitro affinity constants for the M4 receptor and below those for the M1 receptor. Histology demonstrated that MT-3 at the doses used had no gross effects on the retina, indicating a non-toxic mode of action.

Conclusions: In the chick, which lacks a homologue of the mammalian M1 receptor, the above findings represent compelling evidence that muscarinic antagonists prevent myopia progression through an M4-receptor mediated mechanism, most likely located in the retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biometry
  • Chickens
  • Intravitreal Injections
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Myopia / drug therapy
  • Myopia / pathology*
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects


  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4
  • Receptors, Muscarinic