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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996 Apr;53(4):783-90.

Effects of nicotinamide on central cholinergic transmission and on spatial learning in rats.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Mainz, Germany.


High-dose nicotinamide (1000 mg/kg) leads to a minor increase of plasma choline but to a major increase of the choline concentrations in the intra- and extracellular spaces of the brain. In the hippocampus, the nicotinamide-induced increase in choline was associated with an increase in the release of acetylcholine under stimulated conditions. In young rats, nicotinamide in doses between 10 and 1000 mg/kg did not influence spatial learning, as tested in the Morris water maze. In old rats, low doses of nicotinamide were ineffective whereas the high dose of 1000 mg/kg even impaired spatial learning. The combined administration of choline and nicotinamide had a synergistic effect on brain choline levels but had similar effects as nicotinamide given alone in the behavioral experiments. Additional tests for spontaneous behaviour and locomotion revealed procholinergic and sedative effects of the compound. We conclude that the ineffectiveness of the putative cognition enhancer nicotinamide in the learning task may be due to the observed sedative effect. Therefore, the development of nonsedative nicotinamide derivatives is recommended.

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