Urinary Tract

Volume 2011 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 319-344


Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors in the Urinary Tract

  • K.-E. AnderssonAffiliated withInstitute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine Email author 

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Muscarinic receptors comprise five cloned subtypes, encoded by five distinct genes, which correspond to pharmacologically defined receptors (M1–M5). They belong to the family of G-protein-coupled receptors and couple differentially to the G-proteins. Preferentially, the inhibitory muscarinic M2 and M4 receptors couple to Gi/o, whereas the excitatory muscarinic M1, M3, and M5 receptors preferentially couple to Gq/11. In general, muscarinic M1, M3, and M5 receptors increase intracellular calcium by mobilizing phosphoinositides that generate inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) and 1,2-diacylglycerol (DAG), whereas M2 and M4 receptors are negatively coupled to adenylyl cyclase. Muscarinic receptors are distributed to all parts of the lower urinary tract. The clinical use of antimuscarinic drugs in the treatment of detrusor overactivity and the overactive bladder syndrome has focused interest on the muscarinic receptors not only of the detrusor, but also of other components of the bladder wall, and these have been widely studied. However, the muscarinic receptors in the urethra, prostate, and ureter, and the effects they mediate in the normal state and in different urinary tract pathologies, have so far not been well characterized. In this review, the expression of and the functional effects mediated by muscarinic receptors in the bladder, urethra, prostate, and ureters, under normal conditions and in different pathologies, are discussed.


Bladder Cholinergic nerves Muscarinic receptor agonist Muscarinic receptor antagonist Prostate Ureter Urethra