Inhibition of muscarinic receptor-stimulated glial cell proliferation by ethanol

Marina Guizzetti, Lucio G. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Acetylcholine and other muscarinic agonists stimulate the proliferation of rat cortical astrocytes and 132 1N1 human astrocytoma cells by activating muscarinic m3 cholinergic receptors. Ethanol was a potent inhibitor of carbachol-stimulated proliferation, measured by [3H]thymidine incorporation, with an IC50 of 10 mM. On the other hand, basal and serum-stimulated proliferation of astrocytes and astrocytoma cells was inhibited by ethanol with lower potency (IC50 = 200-250 mM). Concentration-response experiments with carbachol, in the presence of 10 mM ethanol, suggested that inhibition of proliferation by the alcohol was of the noncompetitive type. Experiments with acetaldehyde and with the alcohol dehydrogenase inhibitor 4- methylpyrazole suggested that the inhibitory effect of alcohol was due to ethanol itself and not to its metabolite acetaldehyde. Proliferation of astrocytoma cells induced by carbachol and the inhibitory effects of ethanol were also confirmed by flow cytometry using the 5-bromodeoxyuridine-Hoechst 33258 method. Ethanol (10 mM) had no effect on proliferation induced by 50 μg/ml insulin and 100 ng/ml platelet-derived growth factor BB; on the other hand, the mitogenic effect of 1 mM histamine, 100 U/ml interleukin-1, and 100 ng/ml 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate were inhibited by ~50%. These results indicate that proliferation of glial cells induced by muscarinic agonists is especially sensitive to the inhibitory effect of ethanol. This action of ethanol may be relevant to its developmental neurotoxicity, particularly microencephaly, which is one of the common features of the fetal alcohol syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2236-2245
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocyroma cells
  • Astrocytes
  • Cell proliferation
  • Ethanol
  • Muscarinic receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibition of muscarinic receptor-stimulated glial cell proliferation by ethanol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this