Oral physostigmine in alzheimer's disease: Effects on norepinephrine and vasopressin in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma

Elaine R. Peskind, Dane Wingerson, Marcella Pascualy, Leon Thal, Richard C. Veith, Daniel M. Dorsa, Sol Bodenheimer, Murray A. Raskind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Physostigmine is a cholinesterase inhibitor which enhances central and peripheral cholinergic activity. In this study, we explored in persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD) the effects of an acute dose of physostigmine in patients receiving chronic physostigmine treatment on the activity of the cholinergically regulated noradrenergic and arginine vasopressin (AVP) systems. Specifically, we estimated the effects of sustained release oral physostigmine on central and peripheral noradrenergic and A VP systems by measuring norepinephrine (NE) and AVP in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma. Lumbar punctures were performed in both physostigmine and no drug treatment conditions. In some subjects the effects of physostigmine on the plasma AVP response to the osmolar stimulus of a hypertonic saline infusion also were measured. NE concentrations in both CSF and plasma were significantly lower in the physostigmine than in the no drug condition. A VP concentrations did not differ between conditions in either compartment, nor did physostigmine affect the AVP response to hypertonic saline. Physostigmine appears to decrease both central and peripheral noradrenergic activity in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-538
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 1995



  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Physostigmine
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • norepinephrine
  • vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this