Figure 122

Mechanism for vasodilation produced by ACh. Arrows with broken tail indicate multiple steps or that other factors are involved. NO, nitric oxide.

SA node and A-V fibers become dominant. Activation of M2 receptors increases the potassium permeability and reduces cAMP levels, slowing the rate of depolarization and decreasing the excitability of SA node and A-V fiber cells. This results in marked bradycardia and a slowing of A-V conduction that can override the stimulation of the heart by catecholamines released during sympathetic stimulation. In fact, very high doses of a muscarinic agonist can produce lethal bradycardia and A-V block. Choline esters have relatively minor direct effects on ventricular function, but they can produce negative inotropy of the atria.

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