Dual action of n-butanol on neuronal nicotinic α4β2 acetylcholine receptors

Yi Zuo, Jay Z. Yeh, Toshio Narahashi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


n-Alcohols exert a dual action on neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors with short-chain alcohols exhibiting potentiating action and long-chain alcohols exhibiting inhibitory action. n-Butanol lies at the transition point from potentiation to inhibition. To elucidate the mechanism of dual action of alcohols, the effects of n-butanol on the human α4β2 ACh receptors expressed in the HEK293 cell line were analyzed in detail by the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Prolonged applications of n-butanol evoked small currents with an EC50 value of 230 ± 90 mM and a Hill coefficient of 1.8 ± 0.4. This current was blocked by either the ACh channel blocker mecamylamine or the receptor blocker dihydro-β-erythroidine, indicating that butanol activated receptors as a partial agonist. As expected from its partial agonist action, n-butanol also modulated ACh-induced currents in a concentration-dependent manner. Butanol at 300 mM potentiated currents induced by low concentrations of ACh (≤30 μM), while inhibiting the currents induced by high concentrations of ACh (100-3000 μM). In addition, butanol at a low concentration (10 mM) suppressed the currents evoked by 10 to 3000 μM ACh, a result consistent with a channel-blocking action. Most features of n-butanol effects were satisfactorily simulated by a model in which butanol acts as a partial agonist and as a channel blocker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1143-1152
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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