Characterization of the cognitive effects of combined muscarinic and nicotinic blockade.
Choice accuracy performance in the radial-arm maze is dependent upon the integrity of both the nicotinic and muscarinic cholinergic receptors. Pharmacological blockade of either of these subtypes of cholinergic receptors with mecamylamine or scopolamine impairs choice accuracy in the radial-arm maze. We have previously demonstrated that the performance deficit caused by muscarinic blockade is exacerbated in at least an additive fashion by coadministration of the nicotinic antagonist, mecamylamine. In the present study, it was found that mecamylamine and scopolamine act together in a greater than additive fashion in disrupting radial-arm maze choice accuracy. When doses of these drugs which do not by themselves cause significant impairments in choice accuracy are given together, they induce a pronounced impairment. Previous results have shown that the adverse effects of nicotinic blockade could be reversed by the dopaminergic D2 agonist LY 171555. In this study, this drug was found to attenuate the cognitive impairment caused by combined nicotinic and muscarinic blockade. On the other hand, the dopaminergic D1 antagonist SCH 23390 which has previously been shown to reverse the adverse effects of muscarinic blockade was not found in this study to attenuate the impairment of combined nicotinic and muscarinic blockade. Since combined nicotinic and muscarinic blockade approximates generalized cholinergic underactivation, treatments like LY 171555, which attenuate the adverse effects of this combined blockade, may be useful in treating syndromes like Alzheimer's disease, which are characterized by generalized cholinergic loss.
Levin, ED; Rose, JE; McGurk, SR; Butcher, LL
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