Overview of muscarinic receptor subtypes

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2012;(208):3-28. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-23274-9_1.


The physiological role of muscarinic receptors is highly complex and, although not completely understood, has become clearer over the last decade. Recent pharmacological evidence with novel compounds, together with data from transgenic mice, suggests that all five subtypes have defined functions in the nervous system as well as mediating the non neuronal, hormonal actions of acetylcholine. Numerous novel agonists, allosteric regulators, and antagonists have now been identified with authentic subtype specificity in vitro and in vivo. These compounds provide additional pharmacological opportunities for selective subtype modulation as well as a new generation of muscarinic receptor-based therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Muscarinic Agonists / pharmacology
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / classification
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects


  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Acetylcholine