Characterization of AN317, a novel selective agonist of α6β2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors

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Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are crucial mediators of central presynaptic, postsynaptic, and extrasynaptic signaling, and they are implicated in a range of CNS disorders. The numerous nAChR subtypes are differentially expressed and mediate distinct functions throughout the CNS, and thus there is considerable interest in developing subtype-selective nAChR modulators, both for use as pharmacological tools and as putative therapeutics. α6β2-containing (α6β2*) nAChRs are highly expressed in and regulate the activity of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, which makes them attractive drug targets in several psychiatric and neurological diseases, including nicotine addiction and Parkinson's disease. This paper presents the preclinical characterization of AN317, a novel α6β2* agonist exhibiting functional selectivity toward other nAChRs, including α4β2, α3β4 and α7 receptors. AN317 induced [3H]dopamine release from rat striatal synaptosomes and augmented dopaminergic neuron activity in substantia nigra pars compacta brain slices in Ca2+ imaging and electrophysiological assays. In line with this, AN317 alleviated the high-frequency tremors arising from reserpine-mediated dopamine depletion in rats. Finally, AN317 mediated significant protective effects on cultured rat mesencephalic neurons treated with the dopaminergic neurotoxin MPP+. AN317 displays good bioavailability and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier which makes it a unique tool for both in vitro and in vivo studies of native α6β2* receptors in the nigrostriatal system and other dopaminergic pathways. Altogether, these findings highlight the potential of selective α6β2* nAChR activation as a treatment strategy for symptoms and possibly even disease progression in neurological degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113786
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 233655222