The butyrylcholinesterase knockout mouse a research tool in the study of drug sensitivity, bio-distribution, obesity and Alzheimer's disease

Ellen G. Duysen, Bin Li, Oksana Lockridge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

20 Scopus citations


Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) mutations common in the human population may result in complete or partial BChE deficiency, making the BChE knockout (KO) mouse a model for human deficiencies. The BChE KO mouse cannot tolerate standard doses of the muscle relaxant succinylcholine or the Alzheimer's disease drugs huperzine A and donepezil. It is resistant to the asthma drug bambuterol. The importance of BChE in detoxication of cocaine has been demonstrated by hepatotoxicity and cardiotoxicity in cocaine-challenged BChE KO mice. The BChE KO mouse becomes obese on a high-fat diet, suggesting a role for BChE in fat metabolism. BChE serves as a backup for acetylcholinesterase by hydrolyzing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in acetylcholinesterase knockout mice. Imaging studies show that BChE injected intrathecally crosses the blood-brain barrier. Mice, but not humans, have carboxylesterase in their blood. Carboxylesterase obscures the role of BChE in detoxication of organophosphorus pesticides. Future studies will make a double knockout that has neither BChE nor carboxylesterase. The double knockout is expected to be unusually sensitive to the toxicity of organophosphorus pesticides. Knowledge of drug sensitivities in the mouse model of human BChE deficiency will aid in understanding adverse drug effects in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-528
Number of pages6
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2009



  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Donepezil
  • Huperzine A
  • Knockout mouse model
  • Obesity
  • Succinylcholine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology

Cite this