Bile acids inhibit cholinergic constriction in proximal and peripheral airways from humans and rodents

Andreacarola Urso, Frank D'Ovidio, Dingbang Xu, Charles W. Emala, Nigel W. Bunnett, Nigel W. Bunnett, X. Jose F. Perez-Zoghbi, X. Jose F. Perez-Zoghbi

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Bile acids inhibit cholinergic constriction in proximal and peripheral airways from humans and rodents. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 318: L264-L275, 2020. First published December 4, 2019; doi:10.1152/ajplung.00242.2019.-Duodenogastroesophageal reflux (DGER) is associated with chronic lung disease. Bile acids (BAs) are established markers of DGER aspiration and are important risk factors for reduced post-transplant lung allograft survival by disrupting the organ-specific innate immunity, facilitating airway infection and allograft failure. However, it is unknown whether BAs also affect airway reactivity. We investigated the acute effects of 13 BAs detected in post-lung-transplant surveillance bronchial washings (BW) on airway contraction. We exposed precisioncut slices from human and mouse lungs to BAs and monitored dynamic changes in the cross-sectional luminal area of peripheral airways using video phase-contrast microscopy. We also used guinea pig tracheal rings in organ baths to study BA effects in proximal airway contraction induced by electrical field stimulation. We found that most secondary BAs at low micromolar concentrations strongly and reversibly relaxed smooth muscle and inhibited peripheral airway constriction induced by acetylcholine but not by noncholinergic bronchoconstrictors. Similarly, secondary BAs strongly inhibited cholinergic constrictions in tracheal rings. In contrast, TC-G 1005, a specific agonist of the BA receptor Takeda G protein-coupled receptor 5 (TGR5), did not cause airway relaxation, and Tgr5 deletion in knockout mice did not affect BA-induced relaxation, suggesting that this receptor is not involved. BAs inhibited acetylcholine-induced inositol phosphate synthesis in human airway smooth muscle cells overexpressing the muscarinic M3 receptor. Our results demonstrate that select BAs found in BW of patients with lung transplantation can affect airway reactivity by inhibiting the cholinergic contractile responses of the proximal and peripheral airways, possibly by acting as antagonists of M3 muscarinic receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L264-L275
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Airways
  • Bile acids
  • Duodenogastroesophageal reflux
  • Lung transplant
  • Precision-cut lung slices
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents/pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Male
  • Trachea/drug effects
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid/pharmacology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle/drug effects
  • Taurolithocholic Acid/pharmacology
  • Bile Acids and Salts/pharmacology
  • Acetylcholine/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bronchoconstriction/drug effects
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled/metabolism
  • Lung/drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic/metabolism
  • Serotonin/pharmacology
  • Inositol Phosphates/biosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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