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Co-administration of memantine has no effect on the in vitro or ex vivo determined acetylcholinesterase inhibition of rivastigmine in the rat brain.

Enz, Albert and Gentsch, Conrad (2004) Co-administration of memantine has no effect on the in vitro or ex vivo determined acetylcholinesterase inhibition of rivastigmine in the rat brain. Neuropharmacology, 47 (3). pp. 408-413. ISSN 0028-3908


Rivastigmine, a cholinesterase inhibitor, is successfully used for the symptomatic therapy of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in the clinic. The drug has a very low potential for drug-drug interactions, as has been demonstrated within large clinical trials. Memantine, recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate to severe AD, acts as a low affinity, non-competitive NMDA-antagonist, on a completely different neurotransmitter system, the glutamatergic system. Given the different sites of action, the possibility to combine a cholinergic with a glutamatergic intervention as potentially superior AD therapy has recently been proposed. In vitro studies have demonstrated that memantine, when added to reversible AChE inhibitors, such as tacrine, donepezil or galantamine, did not interfere with the inhibitory action of any of these drugs. The results from the present study provide evidence that rivastigmine as a pseudo-irreversible (or slow-reversible) AChE inhibitor shares this property described for reversible inhibitors, since memantine (1-100 microM), irrespective of whether given prior to or after rivastigmine did not influence rivastigmine's AChE inhibition in vitro. A similar observation was also made under in vivo conditions (ex vivo measurements): following a 21 day chronic, oral administration of 6 micromol/kg rivastigmine alone or of a combination of rivastigmine plus memantine (6 micromol/kg p.o. of either of the two compounds), an identical degree of AChE inhibition was observed. The concentrations of rivastigmine, its metabolite NAP 226-90 and memantine were measured in the brain of the same animals. Following an equimolar oral dose (6 micromol/kg) of both compounds, the brain level of memantine exceeded that of rivastigmine + metabolite, by a factor of around 30, when measured 2 h after the final dosing, irrespective of the duration of treatment (acute, for 3 or 21 days). This indicates that neither of the two drugs showed accumulation but also, and more importantly, that memantine does not modulate the prime therapeutic action of rivastigmine (AChE inhibition) in vitro or in vivo. Clinical trials using a combination of both drugs will provide a final proof of whether a combination therapy would lead to an increased efficacy in AD patients.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: author can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing); Publisher's version/PDF cannot be used
Keywords: Rivastigmine; Memantine; Acetylcholinesterase; Rat brain; Co-administration
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Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2009 13:55
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2009 13:55


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