Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology

, Volume 355, Issue 4, pp 515–523 | Cite as

Non-neuronal acetylcholine, a signalling molecule synthezised by surface cells of rat and man

  • Holger Klapproth
  • Torsten Reinheimer
  • Jürgen Metzen
  • Michael Münch
  • Ferdinand Bittinger
  • Charles James Kirkpatrick
  • Karl-Dieter Höhle
  • Michael Schemann
  • Kurt Racké
  • I. Wessler
ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Abstract

Acetylcholine acts as a prominent transmitter in the central and peripheral nervous system. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether mammalian non-neuronal cells can synthesize and store acetylcholine. A cotton tipped applicator (Q-tip) was used to collect surface cells from airways and alimentary tract. Histological inspection indicated that rubbing of the luminal surface of human bronchi did not penetrate the basal membrane. Acetylcholine was measured by an HPLC-method using substrate-specific enzyme reactor-columns.

Non-neuronal acetylcholine was found in cells covering inner and outer surfaces of rat and man. For example, acetylcholine was detected in the surface epithelium of human bronchi (33 pmol/g), mouth (female 0.7 and male 8 pmol/sample), small and large intestine (800 and 16 pmol/g, respectively), gall bladder (12 pmol/g), vagina (6 pmol/sample), skin 1000 (pmol/g) and in pulmonary pleura (5 pmol/sample). Somewhat higher amounts of acetylcholine were found in rat tracheal and intestinal epithelium and in rat skin. The synthesizing enzyme choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) was demonstrated in human surface epithelium by immunohistochemistry and by Western blot analysis. Enzymatic ChAT activity was demonstrated in isolated epithelial cells of human bronchi and small intestine (3.5 and 28 nmol/mg protein/h, respectively). Applied acetylcholine (in nM concentrations) increased, whereas inhibition of ChAT activity by bromoacetylcholine (10 μM) reduced the growth of cultured human bronchial epithelial cells. Inhibition of cell growth occurred also in the presence of atropine (1 μM) together with (±)-tubocurarine (30 μM).

In conclusion, the present experiments demonstrate a widespread existence of non-neuronal acetylcholine in surface cells of man. Non-neuronal acetylcholine may act as a local signalling molecule.

Key words Non-neuronal acetylcholine Surface cells of rat and man Choline acetyltransferase Cell proliferation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger Klapproth
    • 1
  • Torsten Reinheimer
    • 1
  • Jürgen Metzen
    • 1
  • Michael Münch
    • 1
  • Ferdinand Bittinger
    • 2
  • Charles James Kirkpatrick
    • 2
  • Karl-Dieter Höhle
    • 3
  • Michael Schemann
    • 4
  • Kurt Racké
    • 5
  • I. Wessler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, University of Mainz, Obere Zahlbacher Strasse 67, D-55101 Mainz, GermanyDE
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, University of MainzXX
  3. 3.Clinic for Surgery, Academic St. Hildegardis Hospital, MainzXX
  4. 4.Department of Physiology, Veterinary University HannoverXX
  5. 5.Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of BonnXX

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