A-85380: a pharmacological probe for the preclinical and clinical investigation of the alphabeta neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

CNS Drug Rev. 2006 Summer;12(2):100-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-3458.2006.00100.x.


A-85380 [3-(2(s)-azetidinylmethoxy) pyridine] is a neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonist that has been a useful tool in the investigation of the function of nAChRs in both preclinical and clinical studies. Amongst nAChR subtypes, A-85380 shows selectivity for the alpha(4)beta(2) vs. the alpha(7) or alpha(1)beta(1)deltagamma nAChRs. In functional in vitro cation flux assays, A-85380 is a potent and full agonist. A-85380 has a broad-spectrum analgesic profile with efficacy in acute, persistent, and neuropathic pain models. As demonstrated using selective nAChR antagonists or alpha(4) antisense, the alpha(4)beta(2) nAChR mediates the analgesic effects of A-85380. Interestingly, the site of action depends upon the type of pain as antinociception is mediated by descending inhibition into the spinal cord whereas anti-allodynia in neuropathic pain is mediated at both central and peripheral sites. Radiolabelled forms of A-85380 have been developed and shown to be safe for use in vivo in humans. In clinical studies using positron and photon emission tomography, marked decreases in alpha(4)beta(2) nAChRs have been seen in patients with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Although not developed as a therapeutic agent, A-85380 has proven to be an important component in the development of novel nAChR ligands for the treatment of pain and other disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azetidines / chemistry
  • Azetidines / pharmacology*
  • Azetidines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Nicotinic Agonists / chemistry
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pharmacology, Clinical*
  • Radioligand Assay / methods
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / physiology*


  • A 85380
  • Azetidines
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • nicotinic receptor alpha4beta2