Accumulating evidence has shown the pathophysiological significance of the translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) in the central nervous system. In this study, we evaluated the beneficial effects of ONO-2952, a novel TSPO antagonist in rat stress models. ONO-2952 potently bound both rat and human TSPO (Ki=0.330-9.30 nmol/L) with high selectivity over other receptors, transporters, ion channels and enzymes. ONO-2952 inhibited both neurosteroid accumulation and noradrenaline release in the brain of rats exposed to acute stress. The inhibitory effect of ONO-2952 on stress-induced noradrenaline release was attenuated by co-treatment with the TSPO agonist CB34 in a dose-dependent manner. ONO-2952, at 0.3 mg/kg or higher, dose-dependently suppressed restraint stress-induced defecation in rats with brain TSPO occupancy of more than 50%. In addition, ONO-2952, at 1 mg/kg or higher, suppressed conditioned fear stress-induced freezing behavior in rats with an efficacy equivalent to that of diazepam, given orally at 3 mg/kg. Results of the passive avoidance learning test revealed that ONO-2952, unlike diazepam, did not affect learning and memory even at doses 10 times higher than its effective doses in the stress models. The present findings indicate that ONO-2952 is a promising candidate for the treatment of stress-related disorders.
Keywords: Neurosteroid; Noradrenaline; ONO-2952; Stress; Translocator protein 18 kDa.
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