Cholinergic Receptors and Their Major Pharmacological Effects

Cholinergic Receptors are those receptors which respond to the transmitter acetylcholine and are mostly parasympathetic. Here is a list of cholinergic receptors and their major pharmacological effects:


  • M3 (Iris radial muscle) – Pupillary constriction
  • M3 (Ciliary muscle) – Contraction for near vision


  • M2 (Sinoatrial, atrioventricular nodes) – Decreased spontaneous depolarization
  • M2 (His-Purkinje system) – Little effect
  • M2 (Atria, ventricles) – Decreased contractility in atria

Blood vessels

  • M3 (Arteries, arterioles) – Bronchoconstriction
  • (Veins, venules) – Little effect


  • M3 (Tracheal, bronchial muscle) – Relaxation of smooth muscle
  • M2, M3 (Bronchial glands) – Increased secretions

GI tract

  • M2, M3 (Salivary glands) – Increased secretions
  • M2, M3 (Stomach) – Increased motility and secretions
  • M2, M3 (Intestines) – Increased motility

Urinary bladder

  • M3 (Detrusor) – Contraction, decreased capacity
  • M2 (Trigone, sphincter) – Relaxation

Sex organs

  • M3 – Erection

Skeletal muscle

  •  NM – Muscle contraction


  • M3, M2 – Increased digestive enzyme release

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