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Neuropharmacology. 2001 Jun;40(8):1044-9.

Autoradiographic localization of [3H]thiocolchicoside binding sites in the rat brain and spinal cord.

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Istituto di Farmacologia e Farmacognosia, Università di Urbino, via S. Chiara 27, 61029 Urbino, Italy.


Thiocolchicoside is used in humans as a myorelaxant drug with anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. Recently we established the experimental conditions that allowed the identification of [3H]thiocolchicoside binding sites in synaptic membranes of rat spinal cord and cerebral cortex. The pharmacological characterization of these sites indicated that GABA and several of its agonists and antagonists, as well as strychnine, were able to interact with [3H]thiocolchicoside binding in a dose-dependent manner and with different affinities. In order to gain more insight into the nature and the anatomical distribution of the binding sites labeled by [3H]thiocolchicoside, in the present study we examined the localization of these sites on parasagittal and coronal sections of the rat brain and spinal cord, respectively, using receptor autoradiography. In the spinal cord an intense signal was observed in the gray matter, with the highest density occurring in the superficial layers of the dorsal horns. Strychnine completely displaced [3H]thiocolchicoside binding, whereas GABA only partially removed the radioligand from its binding sites. In the brain, specific binding occurred in several areas and was displaced by both GABA and strychnine. The distribution of [3H]thiocolchicoside binding sites in brain sections, however, did not match that found for [3H]muscimol. Furthermore, cold thiocolchicoside was not able to completely displace [3H]muscimol binding, and showed a different efficacy in the various areas labeled by the radioligand. We conclude that thiocolchicoside may interact with a subpopulation of GABA(A) receptors having low-affinity binding sites for GABA. Furthermore, the observed sensitivity to strychnine in the spinal cord indicates an interaction also with strychnine-sensitive glycine receptors, suggesting that the pharmacological effects of thiocolchicoside may be the result of its interaction with different receptor populations.

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