Significant changes in cholinergic neurotransmission have been described in Alzheimer's disease (AD).
These findings led to consider cholinergic deficit as the main disturbance in AD, due to degeneration of presynaptic cholinergic neurons, and that replacement of acetylcholine could restore the cognitive alterations characteristic of AD. Although it was soon demonstrated that cholinergic deficit was not the only change, cholinergic hypothesis has allowed to set several possible therapeutic strategies for these severe disease, the most promising is administration of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
Of all the compounds investigated, tacrine (tetrahydroamineacridine) has shown in several clinical trials a positive effect on memory in patients with symptoms of slight to moderate severity.
Although not all studies have given successful result, probably due to methodological differences, global clinical impression has justified the introduction of tacrine as the first palliative therapy in AD.
CITATION Rev Med Univ Navarra. 1997 Jan-Mar;41(1):58-64
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