Synthesis, biological activity, and biopharmaceutical characterization of tacrine dimers as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors

Shuai Qian, Lisi He, Marvin Mak, Yifan Han, Chun Yu Ho, Zhong Zuo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Tacrine (THA), as the first approved acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD), has been extensively investigated in last seven decades. After dimerization of THA via a 7-carbon alkyl spacer, bis(7)-tacrine (B7T) showed much potent anti-AChE activity than THA. We here report synthesis, biological evaluation and biopharmaceutical characterization of six THA dimers referable to B7T. According to IC50 values, the in vitro anti-AChE activities of THA dimers were up to 300-fold more potent and 200-fold more selective than that of THA. In addition, the anti-AChE activities of THA dimers were found to be associated with the type and length of the linkage. All studied THA dimers showed much lower cytotoxicity than B7T, but like B7T, they demonstrated much lower absorptive permeabilities than that of THA on Caco-2 monolayer model. In addition, all THA dimers demonstrated significant efflux transport (efflux ratio >4), indicating that the limited permeability could be associated with the efflux transport during absorption process. Moreover, the dimer with higher Log P value was accompanied with higher permeability but lower aqueous solubility. A balanced consideration of activity, solubility, cytotoxicity and permeability should be conducted in selection of the potential candidates for further in vivo investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-453
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2014


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Dimers
  • Permeability
  • Tacrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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