Dopamine transporter (DAT) conformation plays a role in the effectiveness of cocaine-like and other DAT inhibitors. Cocaine-like stimulants are intolerant to DAT conformation changes having decreased potency in cells transfected with DAT constructs that face the cytosol compared to wild-type DAT. In contrast, analogs of benztropine (BZT) are among compounds that are less affected by DAT conformational change.
We compared the displacement of radioligand binding to various mammalian CNS sites, acute stimulation of accumbens shell dopamine levels, and place conditioning in rats among cocaine and four BZT analogs with Cl substitutions on the diphenyl-ether system including two with carboalkoxy substitutions at the 2-position of the tropane ring.
Binding assays confirmed high-affinity and selectivity for the DAT with the BZT analogs which also produced significant stimulation of mesolimbic dopamine efflux. Because BZT analogs produced temporal patterns of extracellular dopamine levels different from those by cocaine (3-10 mg/kg, i.p.), the place conditioning produced by BZT analogs and cocaine was compared at doses and times at which both the increase in dopamine levels and rates of increase were similar to those produced by an effective dose of cocaine. Despite this equilibration, none of the BZT analogs tested produced significant place conditioning.
The present results extend previous findings suggesting that cocaine-like actions are dependent on a binding equilibrium that favors the outward conformational state of the DAT. In contrast, BZT analogs with reduced dependence on DAT conformation have reduced cocaine-like behavioral effects and may prove useful in development of medications for stimulant abuse.