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Neuropharmacology. 2006 Sep;51(3):474-86. Epub 2006 Jun 8.

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors used in treatment of Alzheimer's disease prevent glutamate neurotoxicity via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase cascade.

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1
Department of Pharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.

Abstract

We show here that donepezil, galanathamine and tacrine, therapeutic acetylcholinesterase inhibitors currently being used for treatment of Alzheimer's disease, protect neuronal cells in a time- and concentration-dependent manner from glutamate neurotoxicity that involves apoptosis. The neuroprotective effects were antagonized by mecamylamine, an inhibitor of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Dihydro-beta-erythroidine and methyllycaconitine, antagonists for alpha4-nAChR and alpha7-nAChR, respectively, antagonized the protective effect of donepezil and galanthamine, but not that of tacrine. Previous reports suggest the involvement of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt pathway in the nicotine-induced neuroprotection. Inhibitors for a non-receptor type tyrosine kinase, Fyn, and janus-activated kinase 2, suppressed the neuroprotective effect of donepezil and galanthamine, but not that of tacrine. Furthermore, LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, also suppressed the neuroprotective effect of donepezil and galanthamine, but not that of tacrine. The phosphorylation of Akt, an effector of PI3K, and the expression level of Bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic protein, increased with donepezil and galanthamine treatment, but not with tacrine treatment. These results suggest that donepezil and galanthamine prevent glutamate neurotoxicity through alpha4- and alpha7-nAChRs, followed by the PI3K-Akt pathway, and that tacrine protects neuronal cells through a different pathway.

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