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Neuropharmacology. 2003 Sep;45(3):334-44.

The nicotinic alpha 4 beta 2 receptor selective agonist, TC-2559, increases dopamine neuronal activity in the ventral tegmental area of rat midbrain slices.

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  • 1Lilly Research Centre, Eli Lilly & Co. Ltd, Erl Wood Manor, Sunninghill Road, Surrey GU20 6PH, Windlesham, UK.


The ability of alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to modulate dopaminergic (DA) cell activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) in rat midbrain slices was assessed using a selective alpha4beta2 receptor agonist, TC-2559 ((E)-N-methyl-4-[3-(5-ethoxypyridin)y1]-3-buten-1-amine). The selectivity of TC-2559 was characterized across 6 recombinant human nicotinic receptors (alpha4beta2, alpha2beta4, alpha4beta4, alpha3beta4, alpha3beta2 and alpha7) stably expressed in mammalian cell lines. Using a fluorescent imaging plate reader and fluo-3 to monitor changes in intracellular calcium, TC-2559 was found to be at least 69 fold more potent on alpha4beta2 than on other heteromeric subtypes, with an efficacy of 33%. No activity on the homomeric alpha7 subtype was detected. TC-2559 also showed selectivity for alpha4beta2 over the alpha4beta4 and alpha7 subtypes expressed in Xenopus oocytes. When bath applied to VTA slices, TC-2559 increased the firing of DA cells in a dose-dependent manner, in the same concentration range that activates alpha4beta2 receptors in recombinant cell lines or oocytes. The effect of TC-2559 was blocked by 2 microM dihydro-beta-erythroidine (an alpha4beta2-preferring antagonist), but not by 10 nM methyllycaconitine (an alpha7 antagonist). Glutamate receptor antagonists (6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione and D(-)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid) did not reduce TC-2559-induced responses, suggesting that the increase in DA cell firing induced by TC-2559 is caused by direct postsynaptic depolarisation via the activation of alpha4beta2 receptors and not by enhancement of glutamate release.

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