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Nicotinic ACh receptors containing the α7 sub-unit (α7-nAChRs) suppress inflammation through a wide range of pathways in immune cells. These receptors are thus potentially involved in a number of inflammatory diseases. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory effects of α7-nAChRs remain to be described. Anti-inflammatory effects of α7-nAChR agonists were assessed in both murine macrophages (RAW 264.7) and bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM), stimulated with LPS, using immunoblotting, RT-PCR and luciferase reporter assays. The role of adenylyl cyclase-6 in the degradation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) following endocytosis, was explored via overexpression and knockdown. A mouse model of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) induced by porcine pancreatic elastase was used to confirm key findings. Anti-inflammatory effects of α7-nAChRs were largely dependent on adenylyl cyclase-6 activation, as knockdown of adenylyl cyclase-6 considerably reduced the effects of α7-nAChR agonists while adenylyl cyclase-6 overexpression promoted them. We found that α7-nAChRs and adenylyl cyclase-6 are co-localized in lipid rafts of macrophages and directly interact. Activation of adenylyl cyclase-6 led to increased degradation of TLR4. Administration of the α7-nAChR agonist PNU-282987 attenuated pathological and inflammatory end points in a mouse model of COPD. The α7-nAChRs inhibit inflammation through activating adenylyl cyclase-6 and promoting degradation of TLR4. The use of α7-nAChR agonists may represent a novel therapeutic approach for treating COPD and possibly other inflammatory diseases. © 2021 The British Pharmacological Society.


Simeng Zhu, Shiqian Huang, Guofang Xia, Jin Wu, Yan Shen, Ying Wang, Rennolds S Ostrom, Ailian Du, Chengxing Shen, Congfeng Xu. Anti-inflammatory effects of α7-nicotinic ACh receptors are exerted through interactions with adenylyl cyclase-6. British journal of pharmacology. 2021 Jun;178(11):2324-2338

PMID: 33598912

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