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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Aug;21(8):1860-71. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000408.

Type 3 Muscarinic Receptors Contribute to Clearance of Citrobacter rodentium.

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*Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; †United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Diet, Genomics, and Immunology Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland; ‡Department of Radiation Oncology, Division of Translational Radiation Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; and §Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders (TARGID), University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.



The role of muscarinic receptors in mucosal homeostasis, response to enteric pathogens, and modulation of immune cell function is undefined.


The contribution of type 3 muscarinic receptors (M3R) to mucosal homeostasis within the colon and host defense against Citrobacter rodentium was determined in uninfected and C. rodentium-infected WT and M3R-deficient (Chrm3) mice. In addition, WT and Chrm3 bone marrow-derived macrophages were studied to determine the ability of M3R to modulate macrophage phenotype and function.


In Chrm3 mice, clearance of C. rodentium was delayed despite an amplified TH1/TH17 response. Delayed clearance of C. rodentium from Chrm3 mice was associated with prolonged adherence of bacteria to colonic mucosa, decreased goblet cell number, and decreased mucin 2 gene expression. Treatment of bone marrow-derived macrophages with bethanechol, a muscarinic-selective agonist, induced a classically activated macrophage phenotype, which was dependent on M3R expression. Chrm3 bone marrow-derived macrophages retained their ability to attain a classically activated macrophage phenotype when treated with the TH1 cytokine IFN-γ.


In Chrm3 mice, mucin production is attenuated and is associated with prolonged adherence of C. rodentium to colonic mucosa. The immune response, as characterized by production of TH1/TH17 cytokines, in C. rodentium-infected Chrm3 mice is intact. In addition, M3R activity promotes the development of classically activated macrophages. Our data establish a role for M3R in host defense against C. rodentium through effects on goblet cell mucus production and in the modulation of macrophage phenotype and function.

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