We studied the inhibitory activity of methylene blue (MB) γ-carbolines (gC) conjugates (MB-gCs) against human erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase (AChE), equine serum butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), and a structurally related enzyme, porcine liver carboxylesterase (CaE). In addition, we determined the ability of MB-gCs to bind to the peripheral anionic site (PAS) of Electrophorus electricus AChE (EeAChE) and competitively displace propidium iodide from this site. Moreover, we examined the ability of MB-gCs to scavenge free radicals as well as their infuence on mitochondrial potential and iron-induced lipid peroxidation. We found that MB-gCs efectively inhibited AChE and BChE with IC50 values in the range 1.73–10.5μM and exhibited low potencies against CaE (9.8–26% inhibition at 20μM). Kinetic studies showed that MB-gCs were mixed-type reversible inhibitors of both cholinesterases. Molecular docking results showed that the MB-gCs could bind both to the catalytic active site and to the PAS of human AChE and BChE. Accordingly, MB-gCs efectively displaced propidium from the peripheral anionic site of EeAChE. In addition, MB-gCs were extremely active in both radical scavenging tests. Quantum mechanical DFT calculations suggested that free radical scavenging was likely mediated by the sulfur atom in the MB fragment. Furthermore, the MB-gCs, in like manner to MB, can restore mitochondrial membrane potential after depolarization with rotenone. Moreover, MB-gCs possess strong antioxidant properties, preventing iron-induced lipid peroxidation in mitochondria. Overall, the results indicate that MB-gCs are promising candidates for further optimization as multitarget therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases.

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