Interaction with σ1 protein, but not N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor, is involved in the pharmacological activity of donepezil

Tangui Maurice, Johann Meunier, Bihua Feng, John Ieni, Daniel T. Monaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


In the present study, we examined the interaction of (±)-2,3-dihydro-5,6-dimethoxy-2-[[1-(phenylmethyl)-4-piperidinyl]-methyl] -1H-inden-1-one hydrochloride (donepezil), a potent cholinesterase inhibitor, with two additional therapeutically relevant targets, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and σ1 receptors. Donepezil blocked the responses of recombinant NMDA receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes. The blockade was voltage-dependent, suggesting a channel blocker mechanism of action, and was not competitive at either the L-glutamate or glycine binding sites. The low potency of donepezil (IC50 = 0.7-3 mM) suggests that NMDA receptor blockade does not contribute to the therapeutic actions of donepezil. Of potential therapeutic relevance, donepezil binds to the σ1 receptor with high affinity (Ki = 14.6 nM) in an in vitro preparation (Neurosci Lett 260:5-8, 1999). Thus, we sought to determine whether an interaction with the σ1 receptor may occur in vivo under physiologically relevant conditions by evaluating the σ1 receptor dependence effects of donepezil in behavioral tasks. Donepezil showed antidepressant-like activity in the mouse-forced swimming test as did the σ1 receptor agonist igmesine. This effect was not displayed by the other cholinesterase inhibitors, rivastigmine and tacrine. The donepezil and igmesine effects were blocked by preadministration of the σ1 receptor antagonist N-[2-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)ethyl]-N-methyl-2-(dimethylamino) ethylamine (BD1047) and an in vivo antisense probe treatment. The memory-enhancing effect of donepezil was also investigated. All cholinesterase inhibitors attenuated dizocilpine-induced learning impairments. However, only the donepezil and igmesine effects were blocked by BD1047 or the antisense treatment. Therefore, donepezil behaved as an effective σ1 receptor agonist on these behavioral responses, and an interaction of the drug with the σ1 receptor must be considered in its pharmacological actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-614
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Interaction with σ1 protein, but not N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor, is involved in the pharmacological activity of donepezil'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this