An in vitro study on the interaction of the anti-Alzheimer drug rivastigmine with human erythrocytes

Pablo Zambrano, Mario Suwalsky, Malgorzata Jemiola-Rzeminska, Kazimierz Strzalka, Luis F. Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The inhibition of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is a frequently used therapeutic option to treat Alzheimer's disease (AD). By decreasing the levels of acetylcholine degradation in the synaptic space, some cognitive functions of patients suffering from this disease are significantly improved. Rivastigmine is one of the most widely used AChE inhibitors. The objective of this work was to determine the effects of this drug on human erythrocytes, which have a type of AChE in the cell membrane. To that end, human erythrocytes and molecular models of its membrane constituted by dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) and dimyristoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DMPE) were used. They correspond to classes of phospholipids present in the outer and inner monolayers of the human erythrocyte membrane, respectively. The experimental results obtained by X-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) indicated that rivastigmine molecules were able to interact with both phospholipids. Fluorescence spectroscopy results showed that rivastigmine produce a slight change in the acyl chain packing order and a weak displacement of the water molecules of the hydrophobic-hydrophilic membrane interface. On the other hand, observations by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that the drug changed the normal biconcave shape of erythrocytes in stomatocytes (cup-shaped cells) and echinocytes (speculated shaped).

Original languageEnglish
Article number109019
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Acethylcholinesterase
  • Cell membrane
  • Human erythrocyte
  • Lipid bilayer
  • Rivastigmine


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