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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Nov 20;98(24):14096-101. Epub 2001 Nov 13.

Cholinergic dilation of cerebral blood vessels is abolished in M(5) muscarinic acetylcholine receptor knockout mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The M(5) muscarinic receptor is the most recent member of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor family (M(1)-M(5)) to be cloned. At present, the physiological relevance of this receptor subtype remains unknown, primarily because of its low expression levels and the lack of M(5) receptor-selective ligands. To circumvent these difficulties, we used gene targeting technology to generate M(5) receptor-deficient mice (M5R(-/-) mice). M5R(-/-) mice did not differ from their wild-type littermates in various behavioral and pharmacologic tests. However, in vitro neurotransmitter release experiments showed that M(5) receptors play a role in facilitating muscarinic agonist-induced dopamine release in the striatum. Because M(5) receptor mRNA has been detected in several blood vessels, we also investigated whether the lack of M(5) receptors led to changes in vascular tone by using several in vivo and in vitro vascular preparations. Strikingly, acetylcholine, a powerful dilator of most vascular beds, virtually lost the ability to dilate cerebral arteries and arterioles in M5R(-/-) mice. This effect was specific for cerebral blood vessels, because acetylcholine-mediated dilation of extra-cerebral arteries remained fully intact in M5R(-/-) mice. Our findings provide direct evidence that M(5) muscarinic receptors are physiologically relevant. Because it has been suggested that impaired cholinergic dilation of cerebral blood vessels may play a role in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease and focal cerebral ischemia, cerebrovascular M(5) receptors may represent an attractive therapeutic target.

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