, Volume 356, Issue 5, pp 694-697

Mammalian glial cells in culture synthesize acetylcholine

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In the present study we demonstrate that acetylcholine is synthesized by cultured mammalian glial cells identified by cell-type specific markers. Primary cultures of rat brain astrocytes or microglia contained 2.0 and 1.6 pmol acetylcholine/106 cells on average respectively. Astrocyte cultures established from neonatal mouse brain contained even more acetylcholine (about 80 pmol acetylcholine/106 cells). Primary cultures of rat brain astrocytes showed choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) enzyme activity of 3 nmol/mg protein/h; ChAT activity was blocked by 10 μM bromoacetylcholine. In conclusion, these data demonstrate the synthesis of the “neurotransmitter” acetylcholine in cultured glial cells, a finding which opens a new view upon the role of acetylcholine in mammalian brain.