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Scheffel, Corinna; Niessen, Karin V.; Rappenglück, Sebastian; Wanner, Klaus T.; Thiermann, Horst; Worek, Franz; Seeger, Thomas (2018): Counteracting desensitization of human alpha 7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with bispyridinium compounds as an approach against organophosphorus poisoning. In: Toxicology Letters, Vol. 293: pp. 149-156
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Abstract

Irreversible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) resulting in accumulation of acetylcholine and over-stimulation of muscarinic and nicotinic receptors accounts for the acute toxicity of organophosphorus compounds (OP). Accordingly, the mainstay pharmacotherapy against poisoning by OP comprises the competitive muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist atropine to treat muscarinic effects and, in addition, oximes to reactivate inhibited AChE. A therapeutic gap still remains in the treatment of desensitized nicotinic acetylcholine receptors following OP exposure. Hereby, nicotinic effects result in paralysis of the central and peripheral respiratory system if untreated. Thus, these receptors pose an essential target for therapeutic indication to address these life-threatening nicotinic symptoms of the cholinergic crisis. Identification of ligands regulating dynamic transitions between functional states by binding to modulatory sites appears to be a promising strategy for therapeutic intervention. In this patch clamp study, the ability of differently substituted bispyridinium non-oximes to "resensitize" i.e. to recover the activity of desensitized human homomeric alpha 7-type nAChRs stably transfected in CHO cells was investigated and compared to the already described alpha 7-specific positive allosteric modulator PNU-120596. The structures of these bispyridinium analogues were based on the lead structure of the tert-butyl-substituted bispyridinium propane MB327, which has been shown to have a positive therapeutic effect due to a non-competitive antagonistic action at muscle-type nAChRs in vivo and has been found to have a positive allosteric activity at neuronal receptors in vitro. Prior to test compounds, desensitization of h alpha 7-nAChRs was verified by applying an excess of nicotine revealing activation at low, and desensitization at high concentrations. Thereby, desensitization could be reduced by modulation with PNU-120596. Desensitization was further verified by dose-response profiles of agonists, carbamoylcholine and epibatidine in the absence and presence of PNU-120596. Although less pronounced than PNU-120596 and the lead structure MB327, bispyridinium compounds, particularly those substituted at position 3 and 4, resensitized the nicotine desensitized h alpha 7-nAChRs in a concentration-dependent manner and prolonged the mean channel open time. In summary, identification of more potent compounds able to restore nAChR function in OP intoxication is needed for development of a putative efficient antidote.