Cholinergic drugs for Alzheimer's disease
enhance in vitro dopamine release

Zhang L, Zhou FM, Dani JA.
Division of Neuroscience,
Baylor College of Medicine,
Houston, TX 77030-3498, USA
Mol Pharmacol. 2004 Sep;66(3):538-44


Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with a decline in cognitive abilities. Patients also frequently have noncognitive symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, apathy, and psychosis, that impair daily living. The most commonly prescribed treatments for Alzheimer's disease are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil and galantamine. Enhanced cholinergic functions caused by these compounds are believed to underlie improvements in learning, memory, and attention. The noncognitive aspects of dementia, however, are usually linked to serotonin and dopamine rather than acetylcholine because those neurotransmitter systems most directly influence mood, emotional balance, and psychosis. Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry applied to mouse striatal brain slices was used to measure the real-time release of dopamine arising from spontaneous activity or from single electrical stimulations. At concentrations that include their prescribed dosage ranges, donepezil (1-1000 nM) and galantamine (50-1000 nM) increase action potential-dependent dopamine release. Consistent with previous literature, the data support slightly different modes of action for donepezil and galantamine. The ability of these commonly prescribed drugs to alter catecholamine release may underlie their influence over noncognitive symptoms of dementia. Furthermore, these results suggest that acting via nicotinic receptors, these drugs may serve presently untapped therapeutic roles by altering dopamine release in other disorders involving dopaminergic systems.

Alzheimer's disease
Cholinesterase inhibitors
Cholinergic precursor therapy
Acetylcholine and consciousness
Anti-muscarinics/dumb-drug euphoria

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