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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1996 Jun 15;786:348-61.

Cognitive enhancement. New strategies for stimulating cholinergic, glutamatergic, and nitric oxide systems.

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Molecular Physiology and Genetics Section, National Institute of Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.


The development of treatments for AD is being pursued along many diverse lines. While the ACh hypothesis has generated abundant development efforts, little clinical progress has been achieved to date. Recent efforts aimed at developing more potent, more specific, and safer ChE inhibitors appear to offer greater potential for therapeutic success than achieved to date. Treatments aimed at the NMDA Glu system lag much further behind in their development. Progress in this area must be tempered by the potential for glutamate excitotoxicity mediated through this neurotransmitter system. Development of indirect agonists operating at the glycine and polyamine modulatory sites on the NMDA receptor might offer the safest alternative to applying more direct agonists. While a great degree of interest had been generated by the reports of NO involvement in signal transduction through the NMDA system, this area of research has been complicated by conflicting reports regarding NO involvement in learning and LTP. Moreover, the interaction of drugs acting on NOS with the vascular effects mediated by eNOS has also complicated development of drugs that act specifically on the neural actions of NO. This area will continue to receive extensive research attention; but similar to the development of Glu agonists, attention must be given to the potential neurotoxic effects of overstimulating this system. Perhaps targeting other presynaptic mechanisms that effect glutamate release might be a safer strategy to pursue. Considerable progress has been made over the last two decades in identifying the genetic and neural mechanisms involved in AD. Progress in developing treatments will remain highly correlated with this effort, and with basic research geared to comprehending how memories are formed and why neurons degenerate and regenerate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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