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Research Article

Generalised smooth-muscle disease with defective muscarinic-receptor function.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 28 March 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:1015
  1. R Bannister,
  2. A D Hoyes


    A patient with widespread smooth-muscle disease presented with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction but had in addition defects of the bladder, pupils, sweating, and cardiovascular function. There was no evidence of a primary neural lesion, and minor changes in the muscle did not resemble those of a myopathy. In each organ affected muscarinic cholinergic function was at fault, but instead of supersensitivity to cholinergic drugs, which occurs in postganglionic autonomic neuropathies, there was a lack of response to cholinergic drugs and anticholinesterases. It was therefore concluded that the patient had a new type of defect of muscarinic-receptor function. The cause was unknown, but it may have been an autoimmune disease resembling myasthenia, in which there is a postjunctional defect of muscarinic receptors. In similar cases binding of muscarinic agonists and antagonists should be tested. When antibodies to purified human muscarinic receptors become available different patterns of smooth-muscle defect may be identifiable, enabling the lesion to be defined more precisely.