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Pyridostigmine bromide (PB), a peripheral cholinesterase inhibitor, has been shown to have central cholinesterase inhibition properties under certain conditions (such as when ingested with other chemical compounds or following a high level of stress). Here we tested if stressing rats, using an intermittent 1 hr tailshock protocol, affected the degree of brain acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition caused by a subsequent single injection of PB (2.0 mg/kg) or neostigmine bromide (NB, 0.32 mg/kg), another peripheral carbamate cholinesterase inhibitor. Stressed rats treated with PB had lower levels of AChE activity in the basal forebrain/striatum, but not in other brain areas. Stressed rats treated with NB did not show basal forebrain/striatum AChE activity changes but did show minor reductions of AChE activity in the cortex and cerebellum. These results confirm that prior stress can change the characteristic actions of certain peripherally acting drugs, thus possibly leading to unexpected central nervous system effects. Possible causes for these effects are discussed.


Kevin D Beck, Francis X Brennan, Roberta L Moldow, John E Ottenweller, Guanping Zhu, Richard J Servatius. Stress interacts with peripheral cholinesterase inhibitors to cause central nervous system effects. Life sciences. 2003 May 23;73(1):41-51

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PMID: 12726885

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