Irsogladine, an agent that protects gastric mucosa against various ulcerogenic stimuli through increasing cyclic AMP in surface mucous cells, has been reported to dose-dependently (10(-7) to 10(-5) M) facilitate gap-junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) in gastric epithelial cells. The beta adrenergic agonist, isoproterenol, stimulates GJIC in resting cells and inhibits GJIC in cells activated by 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine. In this study, we investigated whether irsogladine acts on GJIC in a manner similar to that shown by isoproterenol. Irsogladine, which bound to M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR), did not inhibit, but failed to further facilitate the 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine-enhanced GJIC, measured by Lucifer yellow transfer. The enhancement of GJIC by irsogladine was inhibited by the M1 mAChR antagonist, pirenzepine. A selective M1 mAChR agonist, McN-A-343, enhanced GJIC. Isoproterenol (10(-8) to 10(-6) M), which alone did not affect GJIC, inhibited the GJIC enhanced by 10(-5) M irsogladine. Conversely, 10(-10) to 10(-6) M irsogladine, which alone did not affect GJIC, inhibited the GJIC enhanced by 10(-5) M isoproterenol. McN-A-343 also converted the action of 10(-5) M isoproterenol from facilitation to inhibition of GJIC. These results indicate that GJIC is heterologously down-regulated by cross-talk between M1 mAChR and beta adrenergic receptors. In addition, the effects of irsogladine and isoproterenol at low concentrations suggest the involvement of another mechanism for down-regulating GJIC.