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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1994 Jul;270(1):319-28.

(S)-3-methyl-5-(1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinyl)isoxazole (ABT 418): a novel cholinergic ligand with cognition-enhancing and anxiolytic activities: II. In vivo characterization.

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  • 1Pharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Illinois.


(S)-3-methyl-5-(1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinyl)isoxazole (ABT 418), an isoxazole analog of (-)-nicotine, is a potent agonist at the alpha-4/beta-2 subtype of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) that exists in mammalian brain (Arneric et al., 1994). Compared to (-)-nicotine, ABT 418 has reduced potency to interact with the subunit isoforms of nAChR found in sympathetic ganglia, and it does not compete for alpha-bungarotoxin binding sites in brain or at the neuromuscular junction. ABT 418 [minimum effective dose (MED), 0.062 mumol/kg i.p.) was 10-fold more potent in improving retention of avoidance learning in normal mice than (-)-nicotine, whereas the (R)-enantiomer of ABT 418, A-81754, was inactive. The memory-enhancing effect of ABT 418 was prevented by the nAChR channel blocker, mecamylamine. In the elevated plus-maze model of anxiety, ABT 418 (MED, 0.19 mumol/kg i.p.) increased open-arm exploration in mice, as previously shown for (-)-nicotine (MED, 0.62 mumol/kg i.p.). A-81754, did not have anxiolytic-like effects in this test. Unlike the classical anxiolytic, diazepam, ABT 418 did not impair rotorod performance in the dose range where beneficial effects occurred. In rats, ABT 418 (MED, 0.002 mumol/kg i.v.) was remarkably potent in enhancing basal forebrain-elicited increases in cortical cerebral blood flow, whereas resting cerebral blood flow was unaffected. Free running cortical electroencephalography in rats was unaffected by ABT 418 at a dose of 1.9 mumol/kg i.p., whereas the same dose of (-)-nicotine caused cortical activation (decreased power in the 1-13 Hz range and increased power in the 25-50 Hz range). Whereas ABT 418 was approximately 3- to 10-fold more potent than (-)-nicotine in memory enhancement and anxiolytic test paradigms, the compound had less emetic liability in dogs as compared to (-)-nicotine, and was less potent than (-)-nicotine in eliciting hypothermia, seizures, death and reduction of locomotor activity in mice. The measured pharmacokinetic or brain disposition properties of ABT 418 in rats did not account for the observed enhancement in efficacy with reduced toxicity as compared to (-)-nicotine. The potent cognitive-enhancing and anxiolytic properties obtained for ABT 418 in animal models without eliciting significant side effects suggest that this ligand is a selective activator of cholinergic channel-mediated behaviors. Thus, ABT 418 may represent a novel, safe and effective treatment of the cognitive and emotional dysfunctions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

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