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J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Oct;30(5):401-9.

Equine recurrent airway obstruction does not alter airway muscarinic acetylcholine receptor expression and subtype distribution.

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Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Pharmacology, Pharmacy and Toxicology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany.


In recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) or heaves, bronchospasm has been attributed to enhanced cholinergic activity. However, the expression and function of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) and their signaling components are not yet known. Thus, we examined the expression, subtype distribution and postreceptor signaling pathways of mAChR in the peripheral lung, bronchial and tracheal epithelia with the underlying smooth muscle from nine horses with RAO and 11 healthy control horses. In RAO horses, no significant segment-dependent alteration in mAChR density and subtype distribution (assessed by [N-methyl-3H]-scopolamine binding; ([3H]-NMS)), was found, except a trend in receptor down-regulation in some peripheral parts of the lung. The total number of high mAChR binding sites (assessed by carbachol-displacement experiments in the presence or absence of guanosine 5'-triphosphate) was not changed in RAO, suggesting that the functional coupling of mAChR to the corresponding G-proteins is intact. The M2-mediated inhibition of adenylate cyclase (AC) as well as the M3-receptor-G(q/11)-phospholipase C (PLC) activity was not different between RAO and control airway tissues. In conclusion, in equine RAO airways, mAChR expression and function were not altered, and thus appear not to account for the enhanced cholinergic activity in RAO.

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