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RATIONALE: Neuropsychiatric behaviours in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients have been associated with neocortical alterations of presynaptic cholinergic and muscarinic M2 receptor markers. In contrast, it is unclear whether non-M2 muscarinic receptors have a role to play in AD behavioural symptoms. OBJECTIVES: To correlate the alterations of neocortical postsynaptic muscarinic receptors with clinical features of AD. MATERIALS AND METHODS: [(3)H]4-DAMP were used in binding assays with lysates of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably transfected with M1-M5 receptors. [(3)H]4-DAMP was further used to measure muscarinic receptors in the postmortem orbitofrontal cortex of aged controls and AD patients longitudinally assessed for cognitive decline and behavioural symptoms. RESULTS: [(3)H]4-DAMP binds to human postmortem brain homogenates and M1-, M3-, M4- and M5-transfected CHO lysates with subnanomolar affinity. Compared to the controls, the [(3)H]4-DAMP binding density is reduced only in AD patients with significant psychotic symptoms. The association between reduced [(3)H]4-DAMP binding and psychosis is independent of the effects of dementia severity or neurofibrillary tangle burden. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that the loss of non-M2 muscarinic receptors in the orbitofrontal cortex may be a neurochemical substrate of psychosis in AD and provides a rationale for further development of muscarinic receptor ligands in AD pharmacotherapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychopharmacology (Berl)

Publication Date





251 - 259


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Alzheimer Disease, Animals, CHO Cells, Cohort Studies, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Muscarinic Antagonists, Neocortex, Neurofibrillary Tangles, Neuropsychological Tests, Piperidines, Psychotic Disorders, Radioligand Assay, Receptor, Muscarinic M2, Receptors, Muscarinic, Synapses, Transfection