Neuropathologic data from patients with Alzheimer's disease indicate the presence of neurofibrillary tangles in hypothalamic regions associated with regulation of pituitary hormone release. The authors explored the hypothesis that cholinergic projections to hypothalamic nuclei controlling pituitary growth hormone (GH) release degenerate in Alzheimer's disease. Integrity of cholinergic regulation was tested by assaying the GH response to a presynaptic cholinergic challenge. After administration of the choline esterase inhibitor edrophonium, the peak GH response was 14 ng/ml in healthy elderly control subjects and only 2 ng/ml in Alzheimer's patients. The magnitude of GH blunting was correlated with cognitive and functional deficits. Possible implications of these data for enhanced accuracy in the diagnosis of dementia are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health