Preferential inhibition of acetylcholinesterase molecular forms in rat brain


The effect of eight different acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) on the activity of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) molecular forms was investigated. Aqueous-soluble and detergent-soluble AChE molecular forms were separated from rat brain homogenate by sucrose density sedimentation. The bulk of soluble AChE corresponds to globular tetrameric (G4), and monomeric (G1) forms. Heptylphysostigmine (HEP) and diisopropylfluorophosphate were more selective for the G1 than for the G4 form in aqueous-soluble extract. Neostigmine showed slightly more selectivity for the G1 form both in aqueous- and detergent-soluble extracts. Other drugs such as physostigmine, echothiophate, BW284C51, tetrahydroaminoacridine, and metrifonate inhibited both aqueous- and detergent-soluble AChE molecular forms with similar potency. Inhibition of aqueous-soluble AChE by HEP was highly competitive with Triton X-100 in a gradient, indicating that HEP may bind to a detergent-sensitive non-catalytic site of AChE. These results suggest a differential sensitivity among AChE molecular forms to inhibition by drugs through an allosteric mechanism. The application of these properties in developing AChEIs for treatment of Alzheimer disease is considered.

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Correspondence to Ezio Giacobini.

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Special issue dedicated to Dr. Morris H. Aprison.

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Ogane, N., Giacobini, E. & Messamore, E. Preferential inhibition of acetylcholinesterase molecular forms in rat brain. Neurochem Res 17, 489–495 (1992).

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Key Words

  • Acetylcholinesterase (AChE)
  • molecular forms
  • AChE inhibitors
  • heptyl-physostigmine
  • sucrose density gradient sedimentation