Muscarinic agonists for the treatment of cognition in schizophrenia

Angela K. Sellin, Mujeeb Shad, Carol Tamminga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


It is widely accepted that cholinergic activity at muscarinic receptors is required to maintain cognitive functions, including learning and memory. Memory domains are especially impaired in schizophrenia, which may explain difficulties in psychosocial rehabilitation of individuals with this illness. However, little is known about the mechanism of this impairment. To understand our current knowledge, we reviewed the literature since 1990 via a PubMed search for the terms "muscarinic", "schizophrenia", "cognition", "memory", "learning", and "agonist" in combination. We found 89 basic science/laboratory studies, case reports/series, case-control studies, cross-sectional studies, standardized controlled animal trials, standardized controlled human trials, and reviews. Although further research is required to fully understand the neuropharmacology of the cholinergic system in cognitive function in schizophrenia, we have examined the data currently available. In general, these data suggest that agonist activity at acetylcholine muscarinic type 1 (M1) receptors would enhance memory and learning in schizophrenia. We present an overview of likely side effects of muscarinic agonists. We outline the anticholinergic activity of several available antipsychotics and review the available M1 muscarinic agonists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-996
Number of pages12
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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