Presynaptic inhibitory effect of Met-enkephalin on [14C] acetylcholine release from the myenteric plexus and its interaction with muscarinic negative feedback inhibition

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The effect of Met-enkephalin on the release of radioactivity (14C) from a myenteric plexus-longitudinal muscle preparation loaded with [14C]choline has been investigated under different conditions, when the muscarinic receptor mediated negative feedback inhibition was operative or when it was completely excluded by atropine. Separation of the [14C]acetylcholine (ACh) and [14C]choline components of the released radioactivity revealed that during 45-min incubation periods about 3.2% of the ACh store became labeled and that during stimulation only the release of [14C]ACh increased above resting level. The fractional release at rest measured in the 5-min collection period was 1.07 ± 0.09 x 10-2 in the absence and 1.56 ± 0.07 x 10-2 in the presence of physostigmine. Met-enkephalin had no effect on the release of ACh evoked by a 2-Hz stimulation when cholinesterase was inhibited by physostigmine. However, in the presence of atropine or in the absence of cholinesterase inhibition, the release by stimulation was significantly higher and subject to inhibition by Met-enkephalin. The present results indicate that Met-enkephalin is able to reduce ACh release only under those conditions in which the negative feedback modulation is negligible and the release is not yet reduced completely. These findings also suggest that in the myenteric plexus there is no independent population of cholinergic neurons exclusively sensitive to either ACh or to Met-enkephalin; cholinergic varicosities ae equipped with at least both types of receptors we studied. When the effect of Met-enkephalin on twitch tension and on the release of radioactivity was studied simultaneously, a positive correlation was found. The responses of the smooth muscle to stimulation were more readily inhibited than the release of ACh, indicating that the safety margin of this neuro-effector transmission site is less than one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-499
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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