Functional characterization of multifunctional ligands targeting acetylcholinesterase and alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

Monika Cieslikiewicz-Bouet, Marina Naldi, Manuela Bartolini, Belén Pérez, Denis Servent, Ludovic Jean*, Rómulo Aráoz, Pierre Yves Renard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with cholinergic dysfunction, provoking memory loss and cognitive dysfunction in elderly patients. The cholinergic hypothesis provided over the years with molecular targets for developing palliative treatments for AD, acting on the cholinergic system, namely, acetylcholinesterase and α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR). In our synthetic work, we used “click-chemistry” to synthesize two Multi Target Directed Ligands (MTDLs) MB105 and MB118 carrying tacrine and quinuclidine scaffolds which are known for their anticholinesterase and α7 nAChR agonist activities, respectively. Both, MB105 and MB118, inhibit human acetylcholinesterase and human butyrylcholinesterase in the nanomolar range. Electrophysiological recordings on Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing human α7 nAChR showed that MB105 and MB118 acted as partial agonists of the referred nicotinic receptor, albeit, with different potencies despite their similar structure. The different substitution at C-3 on the 2,3-disubstituted quinuclidine scaffold may account for the significantly lower potency of MB118 compared to MB105. Electrophysiological recordings also showed that the tacrine precursor MB320 behaved as a competitive antagonist of human α7 nAChR, in the micromolar range, while the quinuclidine synthetic precursor MB099 acted as a partial agonist. Taken all together, MB105 behaved as a partial agonist of α7 nAChR at concentrations where it completely inhibited human acetylcholinesterase activity paving the way for the design of novel MTDLs for palliative treatment of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114010
JournalBiochemical pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Multi-target directed ligand


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