Acetylcholine receptor density in human cricopharyngeal muscle and pharyngeal constrictor muscle

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Background: Upper esophageal sphincter resting tone is reduced during partial neuromuscular block, whereas contraction of the pharyngeal constrictor muscle is only slightly affected. We hypothesized that this difference may arise from differential nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) density, the density supposedly being lower in the more sensitive cricopharyngeal muscle than in the resistant pharyngeal constrictor muscle. The aim of this study was to determine the density of nAChR in the main component of the upper esophageal sphincter, the cricopharyngeal muscle, and in the pharyngeal constrictor muscle. Methods: After approval by the institutional ethics committee and informed consent, muscle specimens were obtained from five patients undergoing surgery with laryngectomy for malignancies of the larynx or thyroid gland. None had received radiation therapy to the affected area. The nAChR from these tissue specimens were solubilized and incubated with I-125-alpha-bungarotoxin. The quantity of radioligand-receptor complex was measured by radioactive decay in a liquid scintillation counter. The receptor density was expressed as femtomoles per milligram of protein (fmol/mg protein). Results: The nAChR density was determined to 6.8 (3.5) fmol/mg protein (mean (SD)) in the cricopharyngeal muscle and 5.6 (2.1) fmol/mg protein in the pharyngeal constrictor muscle (P = 0.22). Although we could not find any difference in mean nAChR density, contrary to our hypothesis, the density in four of the five patients was higher in the cricopharyngeal muscle than in the pharyngeal constrictor muscle. Conclusion: Our results indicate that the density of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors is similar in the cricopharyngeal muscle and in the pharyngeal constrictor muscle. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor density, as determined by I-125-alpha-bungarotoxin assay, cannot explain the difference in response to neuromuscular blocking drugs between the investigated muscles.


  • E Sundman
  • CS Yost
  • G Margolin
  • R Kuylenstierna
  • Olle Ekberg
  • LI Eriksson
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Anestesi och intensivvård


Sidor (från-till)999-1002
TidskriftActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Utgåva nummer8
StatusPublished - 2002
Peer review utfördJa