Alzheimer’s disease and Acetylcholinesterase

The pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to a deficiency in the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine.


Acetylcholine, a chemical compound often abbreviated as ‘ACh’ is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS). In the PNS, it acts as a neurotransmitter and in the CNS it creates activating impulses.


Acetylcholine sends messages between nerves, signalling muscle contractions. If it was not broken down after it had served its function, the muscle involved would not be able to relax and this could create spasms, paralysis and other problems.


Acetylcholinesterase, also known as AChE, is an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  It is mainly found at neuromuscular junctions and cholinergic synapses in the central nervous system where its activity serves to terminate synaptic transmission. Acetylcholinesterase is also found on the red blood cell membranes.


If the rate of  breakdown of acetylcholine is beyond the norm, this will result in reduction in the activity of the cholinergic neurons which is a well-known feature of Alzheimer’s disease.


Thus Acetylcholinesterase breaks down Acetylcholine and the deficiency of Acetylcholine is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.