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Cholinergic nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in dementia of Alzheimer, Parkinson and Lewy body types.

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MRC Neurochemical Pathology Unit, Newcastle General Hospital, United Kingdom.


Cholinergic nicotinic and muscarinic receptor binding were measured in post mortem human brain tissue, using low (nM) concentrations of (3H)-nicotine to detect predominately the high affinity nicotinic site and (3H)-N-methylscopolamine in the presence and absence of 3 x 10(-4) M carbachol to measure both the low and high affinity agonist subtypes of the muscarinic receptor group. Consistent with most previous reports, the nicotinic but not muscarinic binding was reduced in the different forms of dementia associated with cortical cholinergic deficits, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, senile dementia of Lewy body type (SDLT) and Down's syndrome (over 50 years). Analysis of (3H)-nicotine binding displaced by a range of carbachol concentrations (10(-9)-10(-3) M) indicated 2 binding sites for nicotine and that the high affinity rather than low affinity site was reduced in Alzheimer's disease. In all 3 cortical areas investigated (temporal, parietal and occipital) there were increases in the low affinity muscarinic site in Parkinson's disease and SDLT but not Alzheimer's disease or middle-aged Down's syndrome. This observation raised the question of whether the presence of neurofibrillary tangles (evident in the latter but not former 2 disorders) is incompatible with denervation-induced muscarinic supersensitivity in cholinoceptive neurons which include cortical pyramids generally affeted by tangle formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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