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Acetylcholine Deficiency can cause Memory Loss


Posted on October 29, 2009 by DementiaGuide

Acetylcholine Deficiency Can Cause Memory Loss

Promising Cholinesterase Inhibitors Could Help

Acetylcholinewas the first neurotransmitter to be identified by scientists. An active player in both the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system, acetylcholine regulates and activates muscle movement and sweat gland function, as well as our excitability, arousal, and reward systems. Most important to people studying dementia, however, is the integral role acetylcholine plays in the retention and formation of short term memories. Short term memory loss is probably the first major symptom that people suffering from dementia notice. They'll find it difficult to recall the name of a person they just met, or where they parked the car an hour ago - small disruptions to simple, everyday things most people take for granted, like addresses and phone numbers, can really shock a person and be a sign that dementia may be on the way. Luckily, scientific research into the role of acetylcholine is giving scientists new insight into possible pharmaceutical treatments of dementia.

Cholinesterase inhibitors are drugs designed to ease the memory-loss symptoms of Alzheimer's disease dementia. The inhibitors work by focusing on acetylcholinesterase, the naturally-occurring enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine. Too much acetylcholine can lead to muscle spasms and asphyxiation, while too little can lead to the types of memory issues we now associate with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The inhibitors stop the accelerated breakdown of acetylcholine, allowing normal amounts to be flourish in the brain. Cholinesterase inhibitors aren't silver bullets. There is currently no cure for dementia or Alzheimer's, but the cholinesterase inhibitors have been shown to improve cognitive function and mental awareness, especially in patients with mild or moderate dementia.

Further research is underway. Scientists know that acetylcholine - or the lack thereof - has a huge role in the development of dementia. These initial cholinesterase inhibitors are only the first steps toward developing dementia treatments based on our limited understanding of acetylcholine.

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