5-HT3 receptor antagonists are extensively used as efficacious agents in counteracting chemotherapy-induced emesis. Recent investigations have shed light on other potential effects (analgesic, anxiolytic, and anti-psychotic). Some studies have reported neuroprotective properties for the 5-HT3 receptor antagonists in vitro and in vivo. When administered to Aβ-challenged rat cortical neurons, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists substantially abated apoptosis, elevation of cytosolic Ca(2), glutamate release, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and caspase-3 activity. In addition, in vivo studies show that 5-HT3 receptor antagonists possess, alongside their anti-emetic effects, notable immunomodulatory properties in CNS. We found that pretreatment with tropisetron significantly improved neurological deficits and diminished leukocyte transmigration into the brain, TNF-α level, and brain infarction in a murine model of embolic stroke. Our recent investigation revealed that tropisetron protects against Aβ-induced neurotoxicity in vivo through both 5-HT3 receptor-dependent and -independent pathways. Tropisetron, in vitro, was found to be an efficacious inhibitor of the signaling pathway leading to the activation of pro-inflammatory NF-κB, a transcription factor pivotal to the upregulation of several neuroinflammatory mediators in brain. This mini review summarizes novel evidence concerning effects of 5-HT3 antagonists and their possible mechanisms of action in ameliorating neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. Further, we discuss some newly synthesized 5-HT3 receptor antagonists with dual properties of 5-HT3 receptor blockade/alpha-7 nicotinic receptor activator and their potential in management of memory impairment. Since 5-HT3 receptor antagonists possess a large therapeutic window, they can constitute a scaffold for design and synthesis of new neuroprotective medications.
Keywords: 5-HT3 receptor antagonist; Anti-inflammatory; Neurodegeneration; Neuroinflammation; Neuroprotective.