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J Neurochem. 1987 Sep;49(3):890-9.

Autoradiographic localization of [3H]zolpidem binding sites in the rat CNS: comparison with the distribution of [3H]flunitrazepam binding sites.


The regional distribution of [3H]zolpidem, a novel imidazopyridine hypnotic possessing preferential affinity for the BZD1 (benzodiazepine subtype 1) receptor, has been studied autoradiographically in the rat CNS and compared with that of [3H]flunitrazepam. The binding of [3H]zolpidem to rat brain sections was saturable, specific, reversible, and of high affinity (KD = 6.4 nM). It occurred at a single population of sites whose pharmacological characteristics were similar to those of the benzodiazepine receptors labeled with [3H]flunitrazepam. However, ethyl-beta-carboline-3-carboxylate and CL 218,872 were more potent displacers of [3H]zolpidem than of [3H]flunitrazepam. The autoradiographic brain distribution of [3H]zolpidem binding sites was qualitatively similar to that previously reported for benzodiazepine receptors. The highest levels of [3H]-zolpidem binding sites occurred in the olfactory bulb (glomerular layer), inferior colliculus, ventral pallidum, nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca, cerebral cortex (layer IV), medial septum, islands of Calleja, subthalamic nucleus, and substantia nigra pars reticulata, whereas the lowest densities were found in parts of the thalamus, pons, and medulla. Comparative quantitative autoradiographic analysis of the binding of [3H]zolpidem and [3H]flunitrazepam [a mixed BZD1/BZD2 (benzodiazepine subtype 2) receptor agonist] in the CNS revealed that the relative density of both 3H-labeled ligands differed in several brain areas. Similar levels of binding for both ligands were found in brain regions enriched in BZD1 receptors, e.g., substantia nigra pars reticulata, inferior colliculus, cerebellum, and cerebral cortex lamina IV. The levels of [3H]zolpidem binding were five times lower than those of [3H]flunitrazepam binding in those brain regions enriched in BZD2 receptors, e.g., nucleus accumbens, dentate gyrus, and striatum. Moreover, [3H]zolpidem binding was undetectable in the spinal cord (which contains predominantly BZD2 receptors). Finally, like CL 218,872 and ethyl-beta-carboline-3-carboxylate, zolpidem was a more potent displacer of [3H]flunitrazepam binding in brain regions enriched in BZD1 receptors than in brain areas enriched in BZD2 receptors. The present data add further support to the view that zolpidem, although structurally unrelated to the benzodiazepines, binds to the benzodiazepine receptor and possesses selectivity for the BZD1 receptor subtype.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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