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J Neurochem. 1999 Mar;72(3):1117-24.

Antidepressants noncompetitively inhibit nicotinic acetylcholine receptor function.

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Division of Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, USA.


Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are diverse members of the neurotransmitter-gated ion channel superfamily and play critical roles in chemical signaling throughout the nervous system. The present study establishes for the first time the acute functional effects of sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), nefazodone (Serzone), and venlafaxine (Effexor) on two human and one chick nAChR subtype. This study also confirms previous findings of nAChR functional block by fluoxetine (Prozac). Function of human muscle-type nAChR (alpha1/beta gammadelta) in TE671/RD cells, human autonomic nAChR (alpha3/beta4alpha5 +/- beta2) in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, or chick V274T mutant alpha7-nAChR heterologously expressed in native nAChR-null SH-EP1 epithelial cells was measured using 86Rb+ efflux assays. Functional blockade of human muscle-type and autonomic nAChRs is produced by each of the drugs in the low to intermediate micromolar range, and functional blockade of chick V274T-alpha7-nAChR is produced in the intermediate to high micromolar range. Functional blockade is insurmountable by increasing agonist concentrations at each nAChR subtype tested for each of these drugs, suggesting noncompetitive inhibition of nAChR function. These studies open the possibilities that nAChR subtypes in the brain could be targets for therapeutic antidepressants and could play roles in clinical depression.

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