Tuberc Respir Dis > Volume 49(4); 2000 > Article
Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases 2000;49(4):486-494.
DOI:    Published online October 1, 2000.
Function of the neuronal M2 muscarinic receptor in asthmatic patients.
Young Hwan Kwon, Sang Yeup Lee, Sang Myeon Bak, Sin Hyung Lee, Chol Shin, Jae Youn Cho, Jae Jeong Shim, Kyung Ho Kang, Se Hwa Yoo, Kwang Ho In
The dominant innervation of airway smooth muscle is parasympathetic fibers which are carried in the vagus nerve. Activation of these cholinergic nerves releases acetylcholine which binds to M3 muscarinic receptors on the smooth muscle causing bronchocontraction. Acetylcholine also feeds back onto neuronal M2 muscarinic receptors located on the postganglionic cholinergic nerves. Stimulation of these receptors further inhibits acetylcholine release, so these M2 muscarinic receptors act as autoreceptors. Loss of function of these M2 receptors, as it occres in animal models of hyperresponsiveness, leads to an increase in vagally mediated hyperresponsiveness. However, there are limited data pertaining to whether there are dysfunctions of these receptors in patients with asthma. The aim of this study is to determine whether there are dysfunction of M2 muscarinic receptors in asthmatic patients and difference of function of these receptors according to severity of asthma. METHODS: We studied twenty-seven patients with asthma who were registered at Pulmonology Division of Korea University Hospital. They all met asthma criteria of ATS. Of these patients, eleven patients were categorized as having mild asthma, eight patients moderate asthma and eight patients severe asthma according to severity by NAEPP Expert Panel Report 2(1997). All subjects were free of recent upper respiratory tract infection within 2 weeks and showed positive methacholine challenge test(PC 20<16mg/ml). Methacholine provocation tests performed twice on separate days allowing for an interval of one week. In the second test, pre-treatment with the M2 muscarinic receptor agonist pilocarpine(180µg) through inhalation was performed before the routine procedures. RESULTS: Eleven subjects with mild asthma and eight aubjects with moderate asthma showed significant increase of PC20 from 5.30±5.23mg/ml(mean±SD) to 20.82±22.56mg/ml(p=0.004) and from 2.79±1.5mg/ml to 4.67±3.53mg/ml(p=0.012) after pilocarpine inhalation, respectively. However, in the eight subjects with severe asthma significant increase of PC20 from 1.76±1.50mg/ml to 3.18±4.03mg/ml(p=0.161) after pilocarpine inhalation was not found. CONCLUSION: In subjects with mild and moderate asthma, function of M2 muscarinic receptors was normal, but there was a dysfunction of these receptors in subjects with severe asthma. These results suggest that function of M2 muscarinic receptors is different according to severity of asthma.
Key Words: Hyperresponsiveness, M2 muscarinic receptors, Asthma

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