Effect of donepezil hydrochloride (E2020) on extracellular acetylcholine concentration in the cerebral cortex of rats

Jpn J Pharmacol. 1999 Oct;81(2):216-22. doi: 10.1254/jjp.81.216.


Donepezil hydrochloride (donepezil), a potent and selective acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, has been developed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. We studied the effect of oral administration of this drug on the extracellular acetylcholine (ACh) concentration in the cerebral cortex of rats using microdialysis. We also observed fasciculation, a peripheral cholinergic sign induced by activation of neuromuscular transmission, after oral administration of the drug as an index of peripheral cholinergic activation. Other cholinesterase inhibitors, tacrine, ENA-713 and TAK-147, were used as reference drugs. Donepezil significantly and dose-dependently increased the extracellular ACh concentration in the rat cerebral cortex within the dose range of 2.5-10 mg/kg. Tacrine, ENA-713 and TAK-147 also elevated the extracellular concentration of ACh. The minimum effective doses of donepezil, tacrine, ENA-713 and TAK-147 were (< or = 2.5, 10, 10 and < or = 10 mg/kg, respectively. Donepezil produced fasciculation at doses of 2.5 mg/kg and above, with a dose-dependent increase in incidence and intensity. The reference compounds also induced fasciculation in a dose-dependent manner. The threshold doses of tacrine, ENA-713 and TAK-147 for fasciculation were 5, 2.5 and 2.5 mg/kg, respectively. The values of the ratio of the minimum effective dose for the ACh-increasing action to that for the fasciculation-producing action were: donepezil, < or = 1; tacrine, 2; ENA-713, 4; TAK-147, < or = 4. These results indicate that orally administered donepezil has a potent and selective activity on the central cholinergic system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Carbamates / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Donepezil
  • Electrochemistry
  • Extracellular Space / drug effects
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Indans / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nervous System / metabolism
  • Phenylcarbamates*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rivastigmine
  • Tacrine / pharmacology


  • Benzazepines
  • Carbamates
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Indans
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Phenylcarbamates
  • Piperidines
  • Tacrine
  • TAK 147
  • Donepezil
  • Rivastigmine