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Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Sep 11;357(1):83-92.

The actions of muscle relaxants at nicotinic acetylcholine receptor isoforms.

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1
Pharmacology Group, Division of Cell Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.

Abstract

The pharmacological diversity of the different isoforms of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor arises from the diversity of the subunits that assemble to form the native receptors. The aim of this study was to investigate the actions of the muscle relaxants d-tubocurarine, pancuronium and vecuronium on different isoforms of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (mouse foetal muscle, mouse adult muscle and a rat neuronal), using the Xenopus oocyte expression system. Oocytes were injected with cRNAs for alpha, beta, gamma, delta subunits (the native foetal muscle subunit combination), or with cRNAs for alpha, beta, epsilon, delta subunits (the native adult muscle subunit combination), or with cRNAs for alpha4beta2 subunits (a putative native neuronal subunit combination). Acetylcholine had a similar potency at all three subunit combinations (EC50 11.6, 17.4 and 19.1 microM, respectively). At all three receptor types, d-tubocurarine and pancuronium blocked the responses elicited by acetylcholine in a reversible manner. Furthermore, the inhibition of the acetylcholine currents for the foetal and adult nicotinic acetylcholine receptor by pancuronium and d-tubocurarine was independent of the holding voltage over the range -100 to -40 mV. In oocytes expressing the foetal muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors the inhibition of the current in response to 100 microM acetylcholine by 10 nM d-tubocurarine was 29 +/- 5% (mean +/- S.E.M.; n = 7), and the inhibition by 10 nM pancuronium was 39 +/- 6% (mean +/- S.E.M.; n = 8; P > 0.05 vs. d-tubocurarine). However, in the adult form of the muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, 10 nM d-tubocurarine and 10 nM pancuronium were both more effective at blocking the response to 100 microM acetylcholine compared to the foetal muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, with values of 55 +/- 5% (P < 0.01; n = 12) and 60 +/- 4% (P < 0.001; n = 10), respectively. Thus the developmental switch from the gamma to the epsilon subunit alters the antagonism of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor for both pancuronium and d-tubocurarine. Vecuronium was more potent than pancuronium. One nM vecuronium reduced the response to 100 microM acetylcholine by 71 +- 6% (n = 10) for foetal and 63 +/- 5% (n = 4) for adult nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In the alpha4beta2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor combination, 10 nM pancuronium was a more effective antagonist of the response to 100 microM acetylcholine (69 +/- 6%, n = 6) than 10 nM d-tubocurarine (30 +/- 5%; n = 6; P < 0.05 compared to pancuronium). This is in contrast to the adult muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, where pancuronium and d-tubocurarine were equieffective. The expression of the beta2 subunit with muscle alpha, epsilon and delta subunits formed a functional receptor which was blocked by pancuronium and d-tubocurarine in a similar manner to the alphabeta1epsilondelta subunit consistent with the hypothesis that the beta subunit is not a major determinant in the action of this drug at the adult muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

PMID:
9788777
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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