Professor Kenneth Kosik discusses the biochemistry of Alzheimer's disease in relation to acetylcholine and cholinergic deficiency.
When looking that the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease we focus, of course, on the plaques and the tangles. However, before we began to actually get at the molecular underpinnings of the plaques and the tangles, there had been another very important discovery which is that certain types of neurons that use a transmitter called acetylcholine seem to be impaired more than other neurons in the brain. We call that a cholinergic deficit. For a long time many of the therapies directed toward Alzheimer’s were intended to replace the missing acetylcholine. We now have gone beyond that to try to get toward what we call disease-modifying drugs, those drugs that are going to really affect the origins of the disease, so the plaques and tangles themselves.