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Neurochem Res. 2000 Oct;25(9-10):1185-90.

Cholinesterase inhibitors stabilize Alzheimer disease.

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  • 1University Hospitals of Geneva, Department of Geriatrics, University of Geneva, Medical School, Thonex, Switzerland.


During the last decade, a systematic effort to develop a pharmacological treatment for Alzheimer disease (AD) has resulted into three drugs being registered for the first time in USA and Europe for this specific indication. All three are cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEI). The major therapeutic effect of ChEI on AD patients is to maintain cognitive function at a constant level during a 6 months to one year period of treatment as compared to placebo. Additional drug effects might be slowing cognitive deterioration and improving behavioral and daily living conditions. Comparison of clinical effects of 6 ChEI demonstrates a rather similar magnitude of improvement in cognitive measures. For some drugs. this may represent an upper limit while for other it may still be possible to increase further the benefit. In order to maximize and prolong positive drug effects it is important to start early and adjust dosage during the treatment. Recent studies show that in many patients the stabilization effect produced by ChEI can be prolonged for as long as a 24 month period. In order to explain the stabilizing effect of ChEI, a mechanism other than AChE inhibition, based on beta-amyloid metabolism, is postulated.

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