Effects of chronic catecholamine depletions on muscarinic M1-receptor and its mRNA in rat brain

Masato Asanuma, Norio Ogawa, Kumiko Haba, Hiroshi Hirata, Akitane Mori

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7 Citations (Scopus)


In order to compare the effects of total catecholamine (CA) or noradrenaline (NA) depletions on cholinergic systems, and the mechanisms of receptor regulation in various brain regions, the regional changes in the levels of acetylcholine (ACh), M1-receptor (M1-R) binding, and M1-R messenger RNA (mRNA) were mainly examined in rats which had received either repeated reserpine treatment or a single injection of the selective noradrenergic neurotoxin N-2-chloroethyl-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine (DSP-4). The levels of dopamine (DA), its metabolites, NA, binding to both D1 and D2 sites, and the mRNA encoding the D2 receptor were also measured. Administration of reserpine (0.5 mg/kg/day, s.c.) for 2, 7 and 14 days depleted DA and NA in virtually all brain regions, while the short-term treatment increased DA metabolites in the striatum (at 2 days) and basal forebrain (at both 2 and 7 days). Administration of DSP-4 (50 mg/kg, i.p.) resulted in a specific loss of NA in the brain 10 days after the injection. These DSP-4 treated rats showed no change in the levels of ACh or M1-R except for an increase in ACh in the frontal cortex. In contrast, numerous changes in cholinergic indices were seen in the reserpine treated groups, and these changes varied from region to region of brain and with the length of drug treatment. In the striatum, ACh levels were increased in rats treated for 2 or 7 days but were normal after 14 days. M1-Rs were decreased at 14 days. These changes suggest that striatal DA, initially released by reserpine, inhibits the release of ACh from striatal cholinergic interneurons, while prolonged depletion of DA relieves this inhibition, leading to a subsequent down-regulation of M1-Rs. In the frontal cortex, ACh and M1-R levels were all decreased by reserpine treatment for 2 or 7 days, 7and the M1-Rs remained depressed at 14 days. In the basal forebrain, which contains the cholinergic cells that project to the cortex, DA metabolism was increased by 2 or 7 day reserpine treatment. This increased DAergic activity in the basal forebrain may facilitate cholinergic neurons, causing increased release of ACh in the frontal cortex. This, in turn, may lead to a down-regulation of the M1-Rs in that region. The levels of mRNAs encoding M1-Rs were increased in the striatum and frontal cortex by reserpine treatment, despite the decreases in the M1-Rs themselves. This indicates that the down-regulation of M1-Rs in both regions may be due to an increase in receptor degradation rather than a decrease in receptor production. This contrasts with the mechanism of up-regulation of the striatal D2 receptor in reserpinized rats which correlates with increased expression of its mRNA. The present results indicate that cholinergic neurons in the striatum and basal forebrain are both regulated by DAergic neurons, but in different fashions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the neurological sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1992


  • Acetylcholine
  • Catecholamine depletion
  • DSP-4
  • Dopamine receptor
  • Muscarinic cholinergic receptor
  • Rat brain
  • Reserpine
  • mRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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