The use of PNU-120596 [1-(5-chloro-2,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-3-(5- methylisoxazol-3-yl)-urea], a positive allosteric modulator of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), may be beneficial for enhancing cholinergic therapies. However, the effects of PNU-120596 on activation of native α7-containing nAChRs by physiological concentrations of choline are not known and were investigated in this study using patch-clamp electrophysiology and histaminergic tuberomammillary neurons in hypothalamic slices. In the presence of PNU-120596, subthreshold (i.e., inactive) physiological concentrations of choline (-10 μM) elicited repetitive step-like whole-cell responses reminiscent of single ion channel openings that were reversibly blocked by 20 nM methyllycaconitine, a selective α7 nAChR antagonist. The effects of choline and PNU-120596 were synergistic as administration of 10 to 40 μM choline or 1 to 4 μM PNU-120596 alone did not elicit responses. In voltage clamp at -60 mV, the persistent activation of α7-containing nAChRs by 10 μM choline plus 1 μM PNU-120596 was estimated to produce a sustained influx of Ca2+ ions at a rate of 8.4 pC/min (-0.14 pA). In the presence of PNU-120596 in current clamp, transient step-like depolarizations (-5 mV) enhanced neuronal excitability and triggered voltage-gated conductances; a single opening of an α7-containing nAChR channel appeared to transiently depolarize the entire neuron and facilitate spontaneous firing. Therefore, this study tested and confirmed the hypothesis that PNU-120596 enhances the effects of subthreshold concentrations of choline on native α7-containing nAChRs, allowing physiological levels of choline to activate these receptors and produce whole-cell responses in the absence of exogenous nicotinic agents. In certain neurological disorders, this activation may be therapeutically beneficial, more efficacious, and safer than treatments with nAChR agonists.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Feb 2010|