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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2008 Apr;37(4):673-81. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2007.12.010. Epub 2007 Dec 15.

Extracellular tau promotes intracellular calcium increase through M1 and M3 muscarinic receptors in neuronal cells.

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  • 1Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, C/Nicolás Cabrera no 1, Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049, Madrid, Spain.


Extracellular tau promotes an increase in the level of intracellular calcium in cultured neuronal cells. We have found that such increase is impaired in the presence of antagonists of muscarinic receptors. In order to identify the nature of those receptors, we have tested the effect of different specific muscarinic receptor antagonists on tau promoted calcium increase. Our results indicate that the increase does not take place in the presence of antagonists of muscarinic (mainly M1 and M3) receptors. A similar increase in intracellular calcium was found in non-neuronal cells transfected with cDNA of M1 and M3 muscarinic receptors when tau was added. These results suggest that observed effect of tau protein on neuronal (neuroblastoma and primary cultures of hippocampal and cortical neurons) cells is through M1 and M3 muscarinic receptors. Therefore blocking M1 and for M3 receptors, by using specific receptor antagonists, can prevent that tau toxic effect that could take place in tauopathies.

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