Methylene blue inhibits the function of α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors

Abdulla S. Al Mansouri, Dietrich E. Lorke, Syed M. Nurulain, Abrar Ashoor, Susan Yang Keun-Hang, Georg Petroianu, Dmytro Isaev, Murat Oz

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Methylene Blue (MB) is being investigated in clinical studies for its beneficial effects in the treatment of Alzheimer disease. However, its exact mechanisms of action have not been fully elucidated. The modulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) has been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, in the present study, the effect of MB on the function of the cloned α7 subunit of the human nAChR expressed in Xenopus oocytes was investigated using the two-electrode voltage-clamp technique. MB reversibly inhibited ACh (100 μM)-induced currents in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC50 value of 3.4 ± 0.3 μM. The effect of MB was not dependent on the membrane potential. MB did not affect the activity of endogenous Ca 2+-dependent Cl- channels, since the inhibition by MB was unaltered in oocytes injected with the Ca 2+ chelator 1,2-bis (o-aminophenoxy) ethane-N, N, N', N'-tetraacetic acid and perfused with Ca 2+-free bathing solution containing 1.8 mM Ba 2+. MB decreased the maximal ACh-induced responses without significantly affecting ACh potency. Furthermore, specific binding of [ 125I] μ-bungarotoxin, a radioligand selective for the α 7 nAChR, was not altered by MB (10 μM), indicating that MB acts as a noncompetitive antagonist on α 7 nAChRs. In hippocampal slices, whole-cell recordings from CA1 pyramidal neurons indicated that the increases in the frequency and amplitudes of the γ-aminobutyric acid-mediated spontaneous postsynaptic currents induced by bath application of 2 mM choline, a specific agonist for α 7 nAChRs, were abolished after 10 min application of 3 μM MB. These results demonstrate that MB inhibits the function of human α 7 nAChRs expressed in Xenopus oocytes and of α 7 nAChR-mediated responses in rat hippocampal neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-800
Number of pages10
JournalCNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Electrophysiology
  • Hippocampal slices
  • Methylene blue
  • Nicotinic receptors
  • Xenopus oocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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