Immune cells often express various nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) subtypes, including α7 nAChRs, as well as mRNA encoding secreted lymphocyte antigen-6/urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor-related peptide (SLURP)-1, an endogenous α7 nAChR allosteric ligand. We detected SLURP-1 immunoreactivity in CD205+ dendritic cells (DCs) residing in human tonsils. Phytohemagglutinin (PHA, 10μg/ml), a T cell activator, attenuated cell proliferation and increased the ACh content of MOLT-3 human leukemic T cells compared with the vehicle control. Methyllycaconitine (MLA, 100nM), a specific α7 nAChR antagonist, abolished all effects elicited by PHA. Recombinant (r)SLURP-1 (0.5μg/ml) attenuated peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation and increased ChAT gene expression and the ACh content in MOLT-3 cells compared with the control, all of which were abolished by MLA. This suggests SLURP-1 activates cholinergic transmission by potentiating ACh synthesis and its action at α7 nAChRs, thereby facilitating functional development of T cells. These findings support the notion that SLURP-1 acts as a key modulator of immune responses.
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