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      Nerve Growth Factor and Alzheimer's Disease

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      Reviews in the Neurosciences

      Walter de Gruyter GmbH

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          The cholinergic hypothesis of geriatric memory dysfunction.

          Biochemical, electrophysiological, and pharmacological evidence supporting a role for cholinergic dysfunction in age-related memory disturbances is critically reviewed. An attempt has been made to identify pseudoissues, resolve certain controversies, and clarify misconceptions that have occurred in the literature. Significant cholinergic dysfunctions occur in the aged and demented central nervous system, relationships between these changes and loss of memory exist, similar memory deficits can be artificially induced by blocking cholinergic mechanisms in young subjects, and under certain tightly controlled conditions reliable memory improvements in aged subjects can be achieved after cholinergic stimulation. Conventional attempts to reduce memory impairments in clinical trials hav not been therapeutically successful, however. Possible explanations for these disappointments are given and directions for future laboratory and clinical studies are suggested.
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            Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia: loss of neurons in the basal forebrain.

            Recent evidence indicates that the nucleus basalis of Meynert, a distinct population of basal forebrain neurons, is a major source of cholinergic innervation of the cerebral cortex. Postmortem studies have previously demonstrated profound reduction in the presynaptic markers for cholinergic neurons in the cortex of patients with Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia of the Alzheimer's type. The results of this study show that neurons of the nucleus basalis of Meynert undergo a profound (greater than 75 percent) and selective degeneration in these patients and provide a pathological substrate of the cholinergic deficiency in their brains. Demonstration of selective degeneration of such neurons represents the first documentation of a loss of a transmitter-specific neuronal population in a major disorder of higher cortical function and, as such, points to a critical subcortical lesion in Alzheimer's patients.
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              SELECTIVE LOSS OF CENTRAL CHOLINERGIC NEURONS IN ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

               P DAVIES (1976)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Reviews in the Neurosciences
                Walter de Gruyter GmbH
                2191-0200
                0334-1763
                January 1994
                January 1994
                : 5
                : 3
                Article
                10.1515/REVNEURO.1994.5.3.179
                © 1994

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