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Life Sci. 2013 Apr 9;92(12):701-7. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2013.01.029. Epub 2013 Feb 9.

Huperzine A, but not tacrine, stimulates S100B secretion in astrocyte cultures.

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  • 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Neurociências, Instituto de Ciências Básicas da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Ramiro Barcelos, 2600-Anexo, 90035-003 Porto Alegre, Brazil.



The loss of cholinergic function in the central nervous system contributes significantly to the cognitive decline associated with advanced age and dementias. Huperzine A (HupA) is a selective inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and has been shown to significantly reduce cognitive impairment in animal models of dementia. Based on the importance of astrocytes in physiological and pathological brain activities, we investigated the effect of HupA and tacrine on S100B secretion in primary astrocyte cultures. S100B is an astrocyte-derived protein that has been proposed to be a marker of brain injury.


Primary astrocyte cultures were exposed to HupA, tacrine, cholinergic agonists, and S100B secretion was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) at 1 and 24h.


HupA, but not tacrine, at 100μM significantly increased S100B secretion in astrocyte cultures. Nicotine (at 100 and 1000μM) was able to stimulate S100B secretion in astrocyte cultures.


Our data reinforce the idea that AChE inhibitors, particularly HupA, do not act exclusively on the acetylcholine balance. This effect of HupA could contribute to improve the cognitive deficit observed in patients, which are attributed to cholinergic dysfunction. In addition, for the first time, to our knowledge, these data indicate that S100B secretion can be modulated by nicotinic receptors, in addition to glutamate, dopamine and serotonin receptors.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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