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Strasbourg, France

Livolsi A.,University of Strasbourg | Livolsi A.,Ho Pitaux Universitaires Of Strasbourg | Niederhoffer N.,University of Strasbourg | Dali-Youcef N.,University of Strasbourg | And 14 more authors.

Background: Alterations in muscarinic receptor expression and acetylcholinesterase (AchE) activity have been observed in tissues from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Vagal overactivity has been proposed as a possible cause of SIDS as well as of vasovagal syncopes. The aim of the present study was to seek whether muscarinic receptor overexpression may be the underlying mechanism of vagal hyperreactivity. Rabbits with marked vagal pauses following injection of phenylephrine were selected and crossed to obtain a vagal hyperreactive strain. The density of cardiac muscarinic receptors and acetylcholinesterase (AchE) gene expression were assessed. Blood markers of the observed cardiac abnormalities were also sought. Methodology/Principal Findings: Cardiac muscarinic M2 and M3 receptors were overexpressed in hyperreactive rabbits compared to control animals (2.3-fold and 2.5-fold, respectively) and the severity of the phenylephrine-induced bradycardia was correlated with their densities. A similar overexpression of M2 receptors was observed in peripheral mononuclear white blood cells, suggesting that cardiac M2 receptor expression can be inferred with high confidence from measurements in blood cells. Sequencing of the coding fragment of the M2 receptor gene revealed a single nucleotide mutation in 83% of hyperreactive animals, possibly contributing for the transcript over expression. Significant increases in AchE expression and activity were also assessed (AchE mRNA amplification ratio of 3.6 versus normal rabbits). This phenomenon might represent a compensatory consequence of muscarinic receptors over expression. Alterations in M2 receptor and AchE expression occurred between the 5th and the 7th week of age, a critical period also characterized by a higher mortality rate of hyperreactive rabbits (52% in H rabbits versus 13% in normal rabbits) and preceeded the appearance of functional disorders. Conclusions/Significance: The results suggest that cardiac muscarinic receptor over expression plays a critical role in the development of vagal hyperreactivity, whereas AchE hyperactivity appears as a compensatory consequence of it. Since similar vagal disorders were observed recently by us in SIDS, muscarinic receptor over expression could become a marker of risk of vasovagal syncopes and SIDS.© 2010 Livolsi et al. Source

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