Vesicular acetylcholine transport deficiency potentiates some inflammatory responses induced by diesel exhaust particles.


Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil; Department of Bioscience, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Santos, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


Endogenous acetylcholine (ACh), which depends of the levels of vesicular ACh transport (VAChT) to be released, is the central mediator of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory system. ACh controls the release of cytokine in different models of inflammation. Diesel exhaust particles (DEP) are one of the major environmental pollutants produced in large quantity by automotive engines in urban center. DEP bind the lung parenchyma and induce inflammation. We evaluated whether cholinergic dysfunction worsens DEP-induced lung inflammation. Male mice with decreased ACh release due to reduced expression of VAChT (VAChT-KD mice) were submitted to DEP exposure for 30 days (3 mg/mL of DEP, once a day, five days a week) or saline. Pulmonary function and inflammation as well as extracellular matrix fiber deposition were evaluated. Additionally, airway and nasal epithelial mucus production were quantified. We found that DEP instillation worsened lung function and increased lung inflammation. Higher levels of mononuclear cells were observed in the peripheral blood of both wild-type (WT) and VAChT-KD mice. Also, both wild-type (WT) and VAChT-KD mice showed an increase in macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) as well as increased expression of IL-4, IL-6, IL-13, TNF-α, and NF-κB in lung cells. The collagen fiber content in alveolar septa was also increased in both genotypes. On the other hand, we observed that granulocytes were increased only in VAChT-KD peripheral blood. Likewise, increased BALF lymphocytes and neutrophils as well as increased elastic fibers in alveolar septa, airway neutral mucus, and nasal epithelia acid mucus were observed only in VAChT-KD mice. The cytokines IL-4 and TNF-α were also higher in VAChT-KD mice compared with WT mice. In conclusion, decreased ability to release ACh exacerbates some of the lung alterations induced by DEP in mice, suggesting that VAChT-KD animals are more vulnerable to the effects of DEP in the lung.


Acetylcholine,Air pollution,Cholinergic anti-inflammatory system,Pulmonary inflammation,VAChT,