Multiple effects of tetrahydroaminoacridine on the cholinergic system: Biochemical and behavioural aspects

A. Adem, A. K. Mohammed, B. Winblad

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35 Scopus citations


9-Amino-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroaminoacridine (THA) in combination with lecithin has been reported to improve the memory of Alzheimer's disease patients. We have examined some properties of THA in vitro and in vivo so as to define some of the mechanism(s) by which THA might produce its therapeutic effects. In vitro, THA was more potent at inhibiting human plasma cholinesterase (IC50=0.03 μM) than human erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase (IC50=0.3 μM) and rat brain acetylcholinesterase (IC50=0.32 μM). Radioligand binding studies indicated that THA binds reversibly and competitively to primary M 1 and M 2 human cortical muscarinic receptors with similar affinities. Moreover, THA showed similar affinity for temporal cortices muscarinic receptors from Alzheimer and non-Alzheimer (control) brains. In vivo, subcutaneous administration of THA (1-8 mg/kg body weight) to adult rats (6 months old) produced a dose dependent decrease in general activity compared to salinetreated rats. However, at a concentration of 0.5 mg/kg body weight, the general activity of the rats was increased compared to saline-treated rats. The cognitive function of the THA-treated adult rats (subcutaneously 2 mg/kg body weight) was not significantly improved compared to saline-treated rats. It is concluded that the mechanisms of action of THA on the cholinergic system involve reversible inhibition of cholinesterases and reversible and competitive interaction with muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. These effects might be of therapeutic value in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission - Parkinson's Disease and Dementia Section
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1990


  • acetylcholinesterase
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • behaviour
  • butyrylcholinesterase
  • cholinergic receptors
  • human brain
  • memory
  • Tetrahydroaminoacridine


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