Cholinergic-induced anion secretion in murine jejunal enteroids involves synergy between muscarinic and nicotinic pathways

Kelli Johnson, Jianyi Yin, Julie G. In, Subhash Kulkarni, Pankaj Pasricha, Chung Ming Tse, Mark Donowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acetylcholine induces robust electrogenic anion secretion in mammalian intestine and it has long been hypothesized that it mediates the epithelial response through the M3 and, to a lesser extent, the M1 muscarinic receptors in the mouse. However, nicotinic receptors have recently been identified in intestinal enterocytes by quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR/RNAseq, although any direct influence on intestinal transport has not been identified. We tested the hypothesis that cholinergic-induced anion secretion in the intestine is a result of both muscarinic and nicotinic pathways that are intrinsic to the intestinal epithelia. We developed a method to generate mouse jejunal enteroid monolayers which were used to measure active electrogenic anion secretion by the Ussing chamber/voltage-clamp technique. Here, we show that the cholinergic agonist carbachol (CCh) and the muscarinic agonist bethanechol (BCh) stimulate short-lived, concentration-dependent anion secretion in the epithelial cell-only enteroid monolayers. The muscarinic antagonist atropine completely inhibited CCh- and BCh-induced secretion, while the nicotinic antagonist hexamethonium reduced the CCh response by ~45%. While nicotine alone did not alter anion secretion, it increased the BCh-induced increase in short-circuit current in a concentration-dependent manner; this synergy was prevented by pretreatment with hexamethonium. In addition to being sensitive to hexamethonium, monolayers express both classes of cholinergic receptor by qRT-PCR, including 13 of 16 nicotinic receptor subunits. Our findings indicate that an interaction between muscarinic and nicotinic agonists synergistically stimulates anion secretion in mouse jejunal epithelial cells and identify a role for epithelial nicotinic receptors in anion secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C321-C330
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Anion secretion
  • Cholinergic
  • Enteroids
  • Monolayers
  • Nicotinic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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