Signaling pathways involved in pilocarpine-induced mucin secretion in rat submandibular glands

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We have studied the signaling pathways involved in pilocarpine-induced mucin release in rat submandibular slices. Pilocarpine produced a significant increment of PGE2 levels and a positive (r=0.8870) and significant (p=0.0077) correlation between PGE2 production and mucin released was determined. The participation of PGE2 was confirmed by the use of indomethacin (indo) and of acetyl salicylic acid (ASA), cyclooxygenase inhibitors, which inhibited pilocarpine-induced mucin release. The muscarinic receptors involved in the regulation of mucin release were identified as M1 and M4 by the use of the selective acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) antagonists, pirenzepine, AF-DX 116, 4-DAMP and tropicamide. The secretory process was dependent on both, intracellular and extracellular calcium pools since it was inhibited by thapsigargin and verapamil. Cyclic AMP, nitric oxide synthase and PKC also participated in pilocarpine-induced mucin release. It is concluded that pilocarpine, by activation the M1 and M4 mAChR subtypes induces an increase of intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]I) and elevates cAMP levels, which in turn stimulates COX, PKC and NOS and promotes mucin exocytosis. PGE2 released induces cAMP accumulation which, together with PKC are involved in the PGE2 increased Ca2+/cAMP-regulated exocytosis. Thus, cAMP accumulation induced by cholinergic stimulation is, in part, the result of PGE2 production.

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