Takehiro Yamada, Toshihiko Murayama and Yasuyuki Nomura (*)
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido
University, Sapporo 060, Japan
(*) To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Abstract: Several studies have shown that the nervous (and hormonal) system controls immune functions. In the present study, we examined the presence of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and the effect of carbachol on DNA fragmentation in adult rat thymocytes. Rat thymocytes possessed high affinity binding sites for the muscarinic antagonist [3H]3-quinuclidinyl benzilate (QNB). The average number of binding sites per cells was 3000, and the equilibrium dissociation constant of [3H]QNB on intact cell was approximately 80 nM. The binding was inhibited by an M1- and M3-selective antagonist, 4-diphenylacetoxy-N-methylpiperidine methiodine (4-DAMP). Hydrocortisone (100 mg/kg, s.c.) treatment of rats for 2 days prior to sacrifice increased the average number of [3H]QNB binding sites on thymocytes by 82+/-33%. The gel electrophoresis of DNA extracted from carbachol-treated thymocytes revealed a ladder pattern typical of intranucleosomal fragmentation. The addition of oxotremorine-M also induced DNA fragmentation and the effects of muscarinic agonists were inhibited by the addition of atropine or 4-DAMP. The results suggest the existence of muscarinic receptors and the possible involvement in apoptosis in thymocytes.
Keywords: Thymocyte, Muscarinic receptor, Hydrocortisone, DNA fragmentation