SEP 08, 2020 9:04 PM PDT

Anticholinergic Drugs Reported to Cause Cognitive Decline

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

A team of researchers have reported that a class of drugs used for an array of conditions—such as allergies, hypertension and urinary incontinence—could be associated with the increased likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). These drugs are known as anticholinergic and they work by blocking acetylcholine activity.

"This study, led by Alexandra Weigand, suggests that reducing anticholinergic drug use before cognitive problems appear may be important for preventing future negative effects on memory and thinking skills, especially for people at greater risk for Alzheimer's disease," said senior author Lisa Delano-Wood, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Findings were published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Learn more about anticholinergic drugs:

"We believe this interaction between anticholinergic drugs and Alzheimer's risk biomarkers acts in a 'double hit' manner," said Weigand, the study's first author. "In the first hit, Alzheimer's biomarkers indicate that pathology has started to accumulate in and degenerate a small region called the basal forebrain that produces the chemical acetylcholine, which promotes thinking and memory. In the second hit, anticholinergic drugs further deplete the brain's store of acetylcholine. This combined effect most significantly impacts a person's thinking and memory."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
BS/MS
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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