Loss of M2 muscarine receptors in the cerebral cortex in Alzheimer's disease and experimental cholinergic denervation

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Science  31 May 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4703, pp. 1115-1117
DOI: 10.1126/science.3992249


Cerebral cortex samples from patients with Alzheimer's disease and from rats after experimental cholinergic denervation of the cerebral cortex exhibited reductions in the presynaptic marker choline acetyltransferase activity and in the number of M2 muscarine receptors, with no change in the number of M1 receptors. These results are in keeping with evidence that M2 receptors function in cholinergic nerve terminals to regulate the release of acetylcholine, whereas M1 receptors are located on postsynaptic cells and facilitate cellular excitation. New M1-selective agonists and M2-selective antagonists directed at post- or presynaptic sites deserve consideration as potential agents for the treatment of the disease.