As affective and cognitive disturbances frequently co-occur in psychiatric disorders, research into opportunities to simultaneously target both entities is warranted. These disorders are typically treated with monoamine reuptake inhibitors (MRIs), whereas ongoing research suggests that symptoms also improve by nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) activation. Preclinical studies have corroborated this and also demonstrated a synergistic antidepressant-like action when nAChR agonists and MRIs are combined. Here, we present the in vitro and in vivo profile of NS9775, a combined full α7 nAChR agonist and triple MRI. NS9775 potently inhibited [(3)H]α-bungarotoxin binding in vitro (Ki: 1.8 nM), and ex vivo (ED₅₀: 3.6 mg/kg), showing negligible activity at α4β2-(Ki: 1720 nM) or α1-containing nAChRs (Ki: 12,200 nM). In α7-expressing oocytes, NS9775 displayed an EC₅₀ value of 280 nM, with a maximal response of 77% relative to a saturating acetylcholine concentration. Furthermore, NS9775 inhibited cortical [(3)H]5-HT, [(3)H]NA and [(3)H]DA uptake equipotently (14-43 nM), and inhibited striatal [(3)H]WIN35,428 binding (ED₅₀: 9.1 mg/kg). Behaviourally in mice, NS9775 (0.3-3.0 mg/kg) reversed scopolamine-induced deficits in a modified Y-maze and MK-801-induced learning deficits in 5-trial inhibitory avoidance. Swim distance in the forced swim test was increased by 30 mg/kg NS9775, and 10 and 30 mg/kg NS9775 reduced digging behaviour in the marble burying paradigm and increased the number of punished crossings in the four plate test. This pro-cognitive, antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effect of NS9775 suggests that combining α7 nAChR agonism and triple monoamine reuptake inhibition could be a step in the evolution of pharmacological treatments of affective and/or cognitive disturbances.
Keywords: Anxiety; Behaviour; Cognition; Comorbidity; Depression; Mice; Monoamine reuptake inhibition; α7 nicotinic receptor agonism.
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