Muscarinic agonists and antagonists in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive impairment and personality changes. The development of drugs for the treatment of the cognitive deficits of AD has focused on agents which counteract loss in cholinergic activity. Although symptoms of AD have been successfully treated with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (tacrine, donepezil. rivastigmine, galanthamine), limited success has been achieved with direct M1 agonists, probably due to their lack of selectivity versus other muscarinic receptor subtypes. Muscarinic M2 antagonists have been reported to increase synaptic levels of acetylcholine after oral administration to rats (e.g. BIBN-99, SCH-57790), but their selectivity versus other muscarinic receptor subtypes is modest. Exploration of a series of piperidinylpiperidines has yielded the potent and selective M2 antagonist SCH-217443. This antagonist has excellent bioavailability in rats and dogs and shows activity in a rat model of cognition.