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Mol Pharmacol. 1983 May;23(3):629-40.

High-affinity dextromethorphan binding sites in guinea pig brain. II. Competition experiments.


Binding of dextromethorphan (DM) to guinea pig brain is stereoselective, since levomethorphan is 20 times weaker than DM in competing for DM sites. In general, opiate agonists and antagonists as well as their corresponding dextrorotatory isomers are weak competitors for tritiated dextromethorphan ([3H]DM) binding sites and display IC50 values in the micromolar range. In contrast, several non-narcotic, centrally acting antitussives are inhibitory in the nanomolar range (IC50 values for caramiphen, carbetapentane, dimethoxanate, and pipazethate are 25 nM, 9 nM, 41 nM, and 190 nM, respectively). Other antitussives, such as levopropoxyphene, chlophedianol, and fominoben, have poor affinity for DM sites whereas the antitussive noscapine enhances DM binding by increasing the affinity of DM for its central binding sites. Additional competition studies indicate that there is no correlation of DM binding with any of the known or putative neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. DM binding is also not related to tricyclic antidepressant binding sites or biogenic amine uptake sites. However, certain phenothiazine neuroleptics and typical and atypical antidepressants inhibit binding with IC50 values in the nanomolar range. Moreover, the anticonvulsant drug diphenylhydantoin enhances DM binding in a manner similar to that of noscapine. Preliminary experiments utilizing acid extracts of brain have not demonstrated the presence of an endogenous ligand for DM sites. The binding characteristics of DM sites studied in rat and mouse brain indicate that the relative potencies of several antitussives to inhibit specific DM binding vary according to species. High-affinity, saturable, and stereoselective [3H]DM binding sites are present in liver homogenates, but several differences have been found for these peripheral binding sites and those described for brain. Although the nature of central DM binding sites is not known, the potent interaction of several classes of centrally acting antitussives with DM sites suggests that they may be related to the mechanism of action of this drug.

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