Rationale: Alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonists may ameliorate cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, in part, because of their ability to enhance dopaminergic and cholinergic neurotransmission. Objectives: In the current study, the effects of partial nAChR agonist and 5-HT3 receptor antagonist RG3487 (previously R3487/MEM3454) on dopamine (DA) and acetylcholine (ACh) effluxes in rat prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and hippocampus (HIP) were investigated in awake, freely moving rats. Results: R3487/MEM3454, at doses of 0.1-10 mg/kg, s.c., enhanced DA and ACh effluxes in rat mPFC and (HIP), with a peak effect at 0.3- to 0.6-mg/kg doses, producing a bell-shaped dose-response curve. Pretreatment with the selective nAChR antagonist, methyllycaconitine (1.0 mg/kg), completely blocked RG3487-induced (0.45 mg/kg) DA but not ACh efflux, while the selective 5-HT3 receptor agonist 1-(m-chlorophenyl)-biguanide (1.0 mg/kg) partially inhibited cortical ACh but not DA efflux. RG3487 (0.45 mg/kg) combined with atypical antipsychotic drug (APD) risperidone (0.1 mg/kg), but not typical APD haloperidol (0.1 mg/kg), induced a significantly greater increase in HIP ACh efflux. Their combined effect on DA efflux was additive. RG3487, combined with other atypical APDs, namely aripiprazole (0.3 mg/kg), olanzapine (1.0 mg/kg), and quetiapine (30 mg/kg), also produced additive effects on DA efflux. Conclusions: These results suggest that RG3487 enhances DA efflux by nAChR stimulation, whereas ACh efflux is primarily mediated via 5-HT3 receptor antagonism, and that RG3487 alone or as augmentation may improve cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.
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