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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Anticholinergic (AC) medication use is associated with cognitive decline and dementia, which may be related to an AC-induced central hypocholinergic state, but the exact mechanisms remain to be understood. We aimed to further elucidate the putative link between AC drug prescription, cognition, and structural and functional impairment of the forebrain cholinergic nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM). METHODS: Cognitively normal (CN; n = 344) and mildly cognitively impaired (MCI; n = 224) Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative Phase 3 participants with good quality 3-T magnetic resonance imaging were included. Structural (regional gray matter [GM] density) and functional NBM integrity (functional connectivity [FC]) were compared between those on AC medication for > 1 year (AC+ ) and those without (AC- ) in each condition. AC burden was classed as mild, moderate, or severe. RESULTS: MCI AC+ participants (0.55 ± 0.03) showed lower NBM GM density compared to MCI AC- participants (0.56 ± 0.03, p = 0.002), but there was no structural AC effect in CN. NBM FC was lower in CN AC+ versus CN AC- (3.6 ± 0.5 vs. 3.9 ± 0.6, p = 0.001), and in MCI AC+ versus MCI AC- (3.3 ± 0.2 vs. 3.7 ± 0.5, p 

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Neurol

Publication Date



anticholinergic drugs, cognition, forebrain, functional connectivity, gray matter density, nucleus basalis of Meynert