Impaired coupling of muscarinic M1 receptors to G-proteins in the neocortex is associated with severity of dementia in Alzheimer's disease.
Tsang SW., Lai MK., Kirvell S., Francis PT., Esiri MM., Hope T., Chen CP., Wong PT.
Impaired transmission of acetylcholine-mediated signaling by postsynaptic muscarinic M1 receptors has been postulated to underlie the limited efficacy of cholinergic replacement therapies in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, a clear relationship between the functionality of M1 receptors and dementia severity has not been demonstrated. The present study aims to measure M1 coupling to its nucleotide binding (G-) protein in the AD neocortex, and to correlate neurochemical findings with clinical features. A cohort of dementia patients was longitudinally assessed for cognitive decline, with postmortem neuropathological confirmation of AD diagnosis. Measures of M1 receptor density, M1/G-protein coupling and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activities were performed in the frontal and temporal cortex of 24 AD patients as well as in 12 age-matched controls. We found that M1 receptor densities were unchanged in AD, which contrasted with significantly reduced M1 coupling to G-proteins in severely demented AD patients. Loss of M1/G-protein coupling in the frontal cortex, but not the temporal cortex, also correlated with the rate of cognitive decline. Additionally, correlations between M1/G-protein coupling and ChAT activities were demonstrated in both regions. These results suggest that defective coupling of neocortical M1 receptors to G-proteins is a neurochemical substrate of cognitive decline in AD. Based on its associations with ChAT deficits and dementia severity, we propose that M1/G-protein uncoupling may have a significant role in the disease mechanism of AD and thus may be considered to be a potential therapeutic target.