The role of noradrenergic neurotransmission in normal cognitive functions has been extensively investigated, however, the involvement of noradrenergic functions in the cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease has not been as intensively considered. The limited ability of atypical antipsychotics to treat the cognitive impairment of schizophrenia, and cholinomimetics to treat the cognitive impairment of Alzheimer's disease, may be related to the influence of a multiplicity of neurotransmitter abnormalities including noradrenergic dysfunction, which these treatments do not address. The evidence of noradrenergic dysfunction occurring concomitantly with dopamine dysfunction in schizophrenia and acetylcholine dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease supports therapeutic approaches using noradrenergic drugs in combination with neuroleptics and cholinesterase inhibitors, respectively, to enhance the treatment of cognitive impairment. Given the results of animal and human studies, it appears that α-2A agonists may be the optimal choice for this purpose. Copyright (C) 1999 Society of Biological Psychiatry.
- Alzheimer's disease