Affiliation: Centro de Estudios Farmacológicos y Botánicos (CEFYBO)-CONICET. Segunda Cátedra de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires. Paraguay 2155 piso 16 sector izq. Buenos Aires. Argentina, CABA, CP 1121.
Acetylcholine (ACh) is synthesized by choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) from acetylcoenzime A and choline. This reaction occurs not only in pre-ganglionic fibers of the autonomic nervous system and post-ganglionic parasympathetic nervous fibers but also in non neuronal cells. This knowledge led to expand the role of ACh as a neurotransmitter and to consider it as a “cytotransmitter” and also to evaluate the existence of a non-neuronal cholinergic system comprising ACh, ChAT, acetylcholinesterase, and the nicotinic and muscarinic ACh receptors, outside the nervous system. This review analyzes the participation of cholinergic system in inflammation and discusses the role of different muscarinic and nicotinic drugs that are being used to treat skin inflammatory disorders, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as, intestinal inflammation and systemic inflammatory diseases, among others, to assess the potential application of these compounds as therapeutic tools.