Identification of M1 and M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the cat carotid body chemosensory system

M. Shirahata, S. Hirasawa, M. Okumura, J. A. Mendoza, A. Okumura, A. Balbir, R. S. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The carotid body is a major arterial chemoreceptor that senses low O 2 tension, high CO 2 tension and low pH in the arterial blood. It is generally believed that neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine (ACh), participate in the genesis of afferent neural output from the carotid body and modulate the function of chemoreceptor cells (glomus cells). Previous pharmacological studies suggest that M1 and M2 muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChRs) are involved in these processes. This study was designed to demonstrate the presence and localization of M1 and M2 mAChRs in the carotid body and in the petrosal ganglion of the cat. Since DNA sequences of the cat M1 and M2 mAChRs were not known, we first determined partial DNA sequences. These sequences and deduced amino acid sequences highly resembled those of human and the rat. Subsequent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)analysis has demonstrated that mRNAs for M1 and M2 mAChRs are present in the carotid body and the petrosal ganglion of the cat. Immunohistochemistry has indicated that the localization of these receptors appears different. Immunoreactivity for M1 mAChR was strong in nerves in the carotid body. Nerve endings positively stained for M1 mAChR appear to innervate glomus cells. Weak staining for M1 mAChRs was seen in glomus cells. On the other hand, M2 receptor protein seems to be present in glomus cells but not on nerve endings. One third of the neurons in the petrosal ganglion showed immunoreactivity for M1 mAChR. Many neurons and nerve fibers in the petrosal ganglion expressed M2 mAChR immunoreactivity. The results were consistent with previous pharmacological studies. Thus, activation of M1 mAChRs on afferent nerve endings may be linked to the increase in neural output during hypoxia. Further, M1 and M2 mAChRs on glomus cells modulate the release of neurotransmitters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-644
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • DNA sequence
  • RT-PCR
  • glomus cell
  • immunohistochemistry
  • mRNA
  • petrosal ganglion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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