Comparative studies of huperzine A, donepezil, and rivastigmine on brain acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine levels in freely-moving rats.
Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2006 Sep;27(9):1127-36. PMID: 16923332
AIM: To assess the effects of cholinesterase inhibitors huperzine A, donepezil and rivastigmine on cerebral neurotransmitters in the cortex and hippocampus in freely-moving rats. METHODS: Double-probe cerebral microdialysis and HPLC with electrochemical detection were used to detect neurotransmitters. RESULTS: Our results showed that huperzine A (0.25, 0.5, and 0.75 micromol/kg, po) dose-dependently elevated extracellular acetylcholine (ACh) levels in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and hippocampus. Oral administration of donepezil (5.4 micromol/kg) or rivastigmine (1 micromol/kg) also elicited significant increases in ACh in the mPFC and hippocampus. The time course of cortical acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition with the 3 inhibitors mirrored the increases of ACh at the same dose. The marked elevation of ACh after oral administration of huperzine A (0.5 micromol/kg) and donepezil (5.4 micromol/kg) was associated with a significantly increased release of dopamine (DA) in the mPFC or hippocampus. None of the 3 inhibitors affected norepinephrine (NE) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) levels in the mPFC and hippocampus. The effects of huperzine A and rivastigmine did not depend on the route of administration, but donepezil was less efficacious by the oral route than by ip injection. The ability of huperzine A to increase ACh levels was unchanged when tests were performed after multiple oral administration of the drug at 0.5 micromol/kg, once per day for 30 d. CONCLUSION: The present findings showed that, in molar terms, huperzine A had similar potency on increasing mPFC ACh and DA levels as compared to the 11- and 2-fold dosages of donepezil and rivastigmine, respectively, and had longer lasting effects after oral dosing.