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Eur J Pharmacol. 1997 Nov 5;338(2):177-83.

Vesamicol and some of its derivatives: questionable ligands for selectively labelling acetylcholine transporters in rat brain.

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  • 1Radionuclide Centre Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Presynaptic cholinergic markers could be used for estimating the integrity of the cholinergic systems in the human brain with brain imaging techniques such as Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Vesamicol, an inhibitor of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter, and some of its derivatives have been suggested as potential ligands for this purpose. However, vesamicol binds not only to acetylcholine transporters but also to sigma binding sites. In the present study, we estimated the contribution of sigma site labelling to [3H](-)-vesamicol binding in different rat brain regions by selectively labelling the acetylcholine transporter, using [3H](-)-vesamicol in the presence of the sigma-ligand 1,3-di(2-tolyl)guanidine to occlude the sigma binding sites. The contribution of sigma site labelling was substantial in all brain regions and ranged from 25% in the striatum to 60% in the medulla. In addition, we investigated, in various experimental set ups, the affinities of several vesamicol derivatives for acetylcholine transporters and sigma binding sites. All vesamicol derivatives used displayed a higher affinity for the sigma1 site than for the acetylcholine transporter and also displayed a high sigma2 site affinity. This poor selectivity limits the usefulness of these compounds as selective cholinergic markers for brain imaging studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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