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M1 and M2 Muscarinic Receptor Subtypes Regulate Antidepressant-Like Effects of the Rapidly Acting Antidepressant Scopolamine

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Scopolamine produces rapid and significant symptom improvement in patients with depression, and most notably in patients who do not respond to current antidepressant treatments. Scopolamine is a nonselective muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist, and it is not known which one or more of the five receptor subtypes in the muscarinic family are mediating these therapeutic effects. We used the mouse forced-swim test, an antidepressant detecting assay, in wild-type and transgenic mice in which each muscarinic receptor subtype had been genetically deleted to define the relevant receptor subtypes. Only the M1 and M2 knockout (KO) mice had a blunted response to scopolamine in the forced-swim assay. In contrast, the effects of the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine were not significantly altered by gene deletion of any of the five muscarinic receptors. The muscarinic antagonists biperiden, pirenzepine, and VU0255035 (N-[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][3-oxo-3-[4-(4-pyridinyl)-1-piper azinyl]propyl]-2,1,3-benzothiadiazole-4-sulfonamide) with selectivity for M1 over M2 receptors also demonstrated activity in the forced-swim test, which was attenuated in M1 but not M2 receptor KO mice. An antagonist with selectivity of M2 over M1 receptors (SCH226206 [(2-amino-3-methyl-phenyl)-[4-[4-[[4-(3 chlorophenyl)sulfonylphenyl]methyl]-1-piperidyl]-1-piperidyl]methanone]) was also active in the forced-swim assay, and the effects were deleted in M2−/− mice. Brain exposure and locomotor activity in the KO mice demonstrated that these behavioral effects of scopolamine are pharmacodynamic in nature. These data establish muscarinic M1 and M2 receptors as sufficient to generate behavioral effects consistent with an antidepressant phenotype and therefore as potential targets in the antidepressant effects of scopolamine.

Witkin, J. M., Overshiner, C., Li, X., Catlow, J. T., Wishart, G. N., Schober, D. A., … & Felder, C. C. (2014). M1 and M2 Muscarinic Receptor Subtypes Regulate Antidepressant-Like Effects of the Rapidly Acting Antidepressant Scopolamine. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 351(2), 448-456.
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