Nicotinic and muscarinic subtypes in the human brain: changes with aging and dementia

J Neurosci Res. 1992 Jan;31(1):103-11. doi: 10.1002/jnr.490310115.


Different effects of normal aging on muscarinic and nicotinic receptor subtypes were observed in postmortem brain tissue from different regions of the human brain. A significant decrease in M1 and M2 receptors was found in cerebral cortex, while the M1 and especially the M2 receptors increased with age in the thalamus. A similar pattern of changes was also observed when using (-)3H-nicotine as ligand for nicotinic receptors in the cortex and thalamus. No significant changes in nicotinic receptor binding were observed with age in the cortex or thalamus when using 3H-acetylcholine as ligand. Nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in the brain are not equally affected in dementia disorders. A marked loss of high affinity nicotinic receptors was observed in cortical tissue from patients with Alzheimer's disease and with multi-infarct dementia (MID). The muscarinic receptors were (both M1 and M2) increased in Alzheimer cortical tissue while they were decreased in MID.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Child
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / analysis
  • Dementia / metabolism*
  • Dementia / pathology
  • Dementia, Multi-Infarct / metabolism
  • Dementia, Multi-Infarct / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / classification
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / analysis*
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / classification
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / analysis*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / classification
  • Thalamus / chemistry
  • Thalamus / pathology


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase