Rationale: The α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α4β2-nAChRs) may represent useful targets for cognitive improvement. It has been recently proposed that a strategy based on positive allosteric modulation of α4β2-nAChRs reveals several advantages over the direct agonist approach. Nevertheless, the procognitive effects of α4β2-nAChR positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) have not been extensively characterized. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the procognitive efficacy of desformylflustrabromine (dFBr), a selective α4β2-nAChR PAM. Methods: Cognitive effects were investigated in the novel object recognition task (NORT) and the attentional set-shifting task (ASST) in rats. Results: The results demonstrate that dFBr attenuated the delay-induced impairment in NORT performance and facilitated cognitive flexibility in the ASST. The beneficial effects of dFBr were inhibited by dihydro-β-erythroidine, a relatively selective α4β2-nAChR antagonist, indicating the involvement of α4β2-nAChRs in cognitive processes. The tested α4β2-PAM was also effective against ketamine- and scopolamine-induced deficits of object recognition memory. Moreover, procognitive effects were also observed after combined treatment with inactive doses of dFBr and TC-2403, a selective α4β2-nAChR agonist. Conclusions: These findings indicate that dFBr presents procognitive activity, supporting the strategy based on α4β2-nAChR potentiation as a plausible therapy for cognitive impairment.
- Positive allosteric modulators