Pyridostigmine bromide (PB) is a reversible, peripherally active inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, and is recommended by the military as a pretreatment against potential nerve gas exposure. Recent evidence suggests that exposure to inescapable stressors allows PB to cross the blood-brain barrier, and thereby affect central AChE activity in mice. Here, we evaluated the functional impact of a stress/PB treatment interaction on acoustic startle responding and plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) activity in male Sprague-Dawley rats. To model the treatment protocol used by the military, PB was delivered in the drinking water of rats for 7 consecutive days. The morning after the start of PB treatment, and for the next 6 days, half the rats were exposed to 1 h of supine restraint stress. We therefore employed a 2 x 2 (stress x PB treatment) between-groups design. Exposure to supine stress alone induced a persistent decrease in plasma BuChE activity. Further decreases in BuChE activity were not observed in rats exposed to supine restraint and PB treatment. Exposure to stress also induced an exaggerated startle response, evident on the last day of stress and 24 h after stressor cessation. Treatment with PB alone produced an exaggerated startle response over the same time period, albeit to a lesser degree. Although treatment with PB concurrent with stress did not produce further changes in either BuChE activity or acoustic startle responding, stress-induced alterations in drinking behavior (and thereby the dose of PB ingested) may have affected these results. Persistent stress-induced reductions in BuChE activity may increase the risk of adverse reactions to cholinomimetics.
Physiology & Behavior 06/2000; 69(3):239-46. DOI:10.1016/S0031-9384(99)00245-0 · 3.03 Impact Factor