Cholinergic-induced anion secretion in murine jejunal enteroids involves synergy between muscarinic and nicotinic pathways.Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2020 Aug 01; 319(2):C321-C330.AJ
Acetylcholine induces robust electrogenic anion secretion in mammalian intestine and it has long been hypothesized that it mediates the epithelial response through the M3 and, to a lesser extent, the M1 muscarinic receptors in the mouse. However, nicotinic receptors have recently been identified in intestinal enterocytes by quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR/RNAseq, although any direct influence on intestinal transport has not been identified. We tested the hypothesis that cholinergic-induced anion secretion in the intestine is a result of both muscarinic and nicotinic pathways that are intrinsic to the intestinal epithelia. We developed a method to generate mouse jejunal enteroid monolayers which were used to measure active electrogenic anion secretion by the Ussing chamber/voltage-clamp technique. Here, we show that the cholinergic agonist carbachol (CCh) and the muscarinic agonist bethanechol (BCh) stimulate short-lived, concentration-dependent anion secretion in the epithelial cell-only enteroid monolayers. The muscarinic antagonist atropine completely inhibited CCh- and BCh-induced secretion, while the nicotinic antagonist hexamethonium reduced the CCh response by ~45%. While nicotine alone did not alter anion secretion, it increased the BCh-induced increase in short-circuit current in a concentration-dependent manner; this synergy was prevented by pretreatment with hexamethonium. In addition to being sensitive to hexamethonium, monolayers express both classes of cholinergic receptor by qRT-PCR, including 13 of 16 nicotinic receptor subunits. Our findings indicate that an interaction between muscarinic and nicotinic agonists synergistically stimulates anion secretion in mouse jejunal epithelial cells and identify a role for epithelial nicotinic receptors in anion secretion.