Prejunctional modulation of acetylcholine release from the skeletal neuromuscular junction: Link between positive (nicotinic)- and negative (muscarinic)-feedback modulation

E. S. Vizi, G. T. Somogyi

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Presynaptic receptor-mediated modulation of stimulation-evoked ([3H]-ACh) release from the neuromuscular junction was studied in the region of the mouse hemidiaphragm which contains the motor endplates, and which can easily be loaded with [3H]-choline. This method made it possible to detect exclusively the [Ca2+](o)-dependent, quantal release of [3H]-ACh in response to axonal stimulation. Atropine enhanced, and non-depolarizing muscle relaxants ((+)-tubocurarine, pancuronium and pipecuronium) reduced, the release of [3H]-ACh evoked by high frequency trains of stimulation (50 Hz, 40 shocks) of the phrenic nerve. The effect of (+)-tubocurarine was frequency-dependent as at 5 Hz (40 shocks) it was less effective than at 50 Hz. The resting release of [3H]-ACh was not affected by these compounds. These findings indicate that ACh released into the synaptic gap by axonal firing reaches a concentration sufficient to influence its own release by a prejunctional effect. The anticholinesterase, physostigmine sulphate, enhanced the release of [3H]-ACh in a concentration-dependent manner. This effect was mediated via prejunctional nicotinic receptor stimulation: (+)-tubocurarine, pancuronium and pipecuronium completely prevented the effect of physostigmine. When the prejunctional nicotinic and muscarinic receptors were stimulated by a high concentration of extracellular ACh which had accumulated in the junctional gap in the presence of physostigmine, atropine did not influence the evoked release of [3H]-ACh. However, when the effect of endogenous ACh on nicotinic receptors was prevented by (+)-tubocurarine, atropine enhanced the release. It is concluded that quantally-released ACh from motor endplates is subject to prejunctional automodulation: (a) ACh facilitates its own release via an effect on prejunctional nicotinic receptors (positive feedback), (b) ACh release is reduced by an action on muscarinic receptors. When the nicotinic receptor-mediated facilitation is fully operative, the muscarinic receptor-mediated negative feedback is much less effective. It is supposed that there is a link between the two feedback mechanisms possibly at the level of the second messenger system(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-70
Number of pages6
JournalBritish journal of pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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