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Effects of thujone, a major ingredient of absinthe, wormwood oil and some herbal medicines, were tested on the function of α7 subunit of the human nicotinic acetylcholine (α7 nACh) receptor expressed in Xenopus oocytes using the two-electrode voltage-clamp technique. Thujone reversibly inhibited ACh (100 μM)-induced currents with an IC50 value of 24.7 μM. The effect of thujone was not dependent on the membrane potential and did not involve Ca2+-dependent Cl- channels expressed endogenously in oocytes. Inhibition by thujone was not reversed by increasing ACh concentrations. Moreover, specific binding of [125I] -bungarotoxin was not altered by thujone. Further experiments in SH-EP1 cells expressing human α7 nACh receptor indicated that thujone suppressed choline induced Ca2+ transients in a concentration-dependent manner. In rat hippocampal CA3-dentate gyrus synapses, nicotine-induced enhancement of long-term potentiation was also inhibited by thujone. Furthermore, the results observed in in-vivo one-trial passive avoidance paradigm show that thujone (1.25 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly impaired nicotine-induced enhancement of learning and memory in Wistar rats. Collectively, our results indicate that thujone inhibits the function of the α7-nACh receptor and impairs cellular and behavioral correlates of cholinergic modulation of learning and memory.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Toxicology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version will be subsequently published in Toxicology in 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.tox.2017.04.005

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