Medications That Affect Acetylcholine
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Certain medications can increase levels of acetylcholine. They do this by blocking the action of enzymes that break down the neurotransmitter. The primary enzyme in this group is called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), and drugs that make these enzymes less active are called AChE inhibitors or cholinesterase inhibitors. AChE inhibitors can help with symptoms related to thought processes such as language, judgment, and memory. Imbalances in levels of acetylcholine play a role in some neurological conditions. People who have Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease tend to have low levels of acetylcholine. There is no proven way to maintain ideal levels of acetylcholine and prevent neurological diseases. However, researchers are developing advanced treatments to help people with these health conditions live longer, healthier lives.
For modeling impaired spatial cognition, the scopolamine-induced amnesia model still maintains some limited validity, but there is an apparent need for more targeted approaches such as local intracerebral administration of antagonists, as well as novel techniques such as optogenetics focused on cholinergic neurons and chemogenetics aimed at cells expressing metabotropic mAChRs (McNaughton BL, 2006).
Severe depletion of acetylcholine is associated with Alzheimer's disease
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Hafting T, Fyhn M, Molden S, Moser M-B, Moser EI. Microstructure of a spatial map in the entorhinal cortex. Nature (2005)