Whereas prior studies have demonstrated an important immunomodulatory role for the neuronal cholinergic system in the heart, the role of the non-neuronal cholinergic system is not well understood. To address the immunomodulatory role of the non-neuronal cholinergic system in the heart we used a previously validated diphtheria toxin (DT)-induced cardiomyocyte ablation model (Rosa26-DTMlc2v-Cre mice). DT-injected Rosa26-DTMlc2v-Cre mice were treated with diluent or Pyridostigmine Bromide (PYR), a reversible cholinesterase inhibitor. PYR treatment resulted in increased survival and decreased numbers of MHC-IIlowCCR2+ macrophages in DT-injected Rosa26-DTMlc2v-Cre mice compared to diluent treated Rosa26-DTMlc2v-Cre mice. Importantly, the expression of CCL2/7 mRNA and protein was reduced in the hearts of PYR-treated mice. Backcrossing Rosa26-DTMlc2v-Cre mice with a transgenic mouse line (Chat-ChR2) that constitutively overexpresses the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) resulted in decreased expression of Ccl2/7 mRNA and decreased numbers of CD68+ cells in DT-injured Rosa26-DTMlc2v-Cre/Chat-ChR2 mouse hearts, consistent with the pharmacologic studies with PYR. In vitro studies with cultures of LPS-stimulated peritoneal macrophages revealed a concentration-dependent reduction in CCL2 secretion following stimulation with ACh, nicotine and muscarine. Viewed together, these findings reveal a previously unappreciated immunomodulatory role for the non-neuronal cholinergic system in regulating homeostatic responses in the heart following tissue injury.
Cibele Rocha-Resende, Carla Weinheimer, Geetika Bajpai, Luigi Adamo, Scot J. Matkovich, Joel Schilling, Philip M. Barger, Kory J. Lavine, Douglas L. Mann