Neurotransmitter Receptor Alterations in Alzheimer’s Disease

  • P. J. Whitehouse
  • K.-S. Au
Part of the Advances in Applied Neurological Sciences book series (NEUROLOGICAL, volume 2)


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized neuropathologically by senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles occurring in association with dysfunction and eventual death of several specific neuronal populations. In brainstem and diencephalon, the neurotransmitter specificity of some affected populations of neurons is known. For example, the medial septum, nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca, and nucleus basalis of Meynert are components of the basal forebrain cholinergic system (Hedreen et al. 1984; Mesulam et al. 1984). In AD, dysfunction in this system (Whitehouse et al. 1981, 1982; Price et al. 1983) is the probable substrate for the loss of presynaptic cholinergic markers in the telencephalon (Bowen et al. 1976; Davies and Maloney 1976b). This cholinergic deficit has been linked to the severity of clinically apparent dementia and to the magnitude of neuropathologic changes (Blessed et al. 1968). In the brain-stem, neuronal dysfunction occurs in the noradrenergic locus ceruleus and serotonergic raphe nuclei (Forno 1978; Bondareff et al. 1982; Curcio and Kemper 1984). Loss of neurons also occurs in the amygdala, hippocampus, and neocortex, although the neurotransmitter specificity of these affected populations of neurons is less clear (Colon 1973; Terry et al. 1981; Ball 1977; Herzog and Kemper 1980; Hooper and Vogel 1976). Reductions in cortical somatostatin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels can probably be linked to dysfunction in populations of interneurons (Perry et al. 1977a; Davies et al. 1980; Rossor et al. 1980).


Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Receptor Senile Dementia Neurotransmitter Receptor Locus Ceruleus 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Whitehouse
    • 1
  • K.-S. Au
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Neurology and NeuroscienceNeuropathology LaboratoryUSA
  2. 2.Division of Geriatrics, Department of MedicineThe Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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