Neurotoxicity Research

, 16:194

Additive Protective Effects of Donepezil and Nicotine Against Salsolinol-Induced Cytotoxicity in SH-SY5Y Cells


DOI: 10.1007/s12640-009-9040-2

Cite this article as:
Das, J.R. & Tizabi, Y. Neurotox Res (2009) 16: 194. doi:10.1007/s12640-009-9040-2


Although the etiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains elusive, a number of toxins including elevated salsolinol, an endogenous metabolite of dopamine may contribute to its pathology. It was reported recently that nicotine may have protective effects against salsolinol-induced toxicity in human neuroblastoma derived SH-SY5Y cells and that these effects of nicotine are mediated by nicotinic receptors. Donepezil (Aricept) is a reversible non-competitive acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that is approved for use in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The increase in acetylcholine concentrations is believed to be the major contributory factor in donepezil’s therapeutic efficacy. However, cholinesterase inhibitors may also directly interact with nicotinic receptors and possess neuroprotective properties. In this study, we sought to determine whether donepezil may have protective effects against salsolinol-induced toxicity in SH-SY5Y cells and whether the combination of donepezil and nicotine may result in additive protection. Moreover, it was of interest to elucidate the role of nicotinic receptors as well as cell cycle and apoptosis in mechanism of action of these compounds. SH-SY5Y cells were exposed to 0.6 mM salsolinol with and without various drug pretreatments for 48 h. Nicotine (50 μM) resulted in approximately 54% protection and donepezil (5 μM) resulted in approximately 40% protection, and the combination of the two resulted in an additive (approximately 93%) protection against salsolinol-induced toxicity. Salsolinol caused an arrest of the cells in G1-phase of cell cycle and an increase in apoptotic indices that were blocked by the combination of donepezil and nicotine. Mecamylamine, a non-selective nicotinic receptor antagonist completely blocked the effects of nicotine and partially attenuated the effects of donepezil. A combination of atropine, a muscarinic receptor antagonist and mecamylamine completely blocked the effects of donepezil, indicating involvement of both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in donepezil’s actions. The findings suggest a therapeutic potential for the combination of donepezil and nicotine in PD.


DonepezilNicotineSalsolinolSH-SY5Y cellsApoptosisCell cycleNeuroprotectionParkinson’s disease

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, College of MedicineHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA