Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Anticholinesterase Inhibitors

  • JoAnn TschanzEmail author
  • Elizabeth K. Vernon
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1770


Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; ACHE inhibitors; AchEIs; CHEIs; Cholinesterase inhibitors


A class of substances that target the cholinergic neurotransmitter system and are often used in the treatment of memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Nonclinical uses include agricultural applications such as pesticides and military applications such as the development of neurotoxins. Acetylcholine is normally released by the presynpatic neuron and activates receptors on the postsynaptic cell. Acetylcholinesterase is the primary enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft. Agents such as cholinesterase inhibitors block the activity of this enzyme, allowing the neurotransmitter substance to remain in the synaptic cleft longer to stimulate postsynaptic receptors (see Cholinesterase Inhibitors).

Current Knowledge

Clinical Indications

Cholinesterase inhibitors (CHEI) are often used in the treatment of memory and other cognitive disorders. In AD,...

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References and Readings

  1. Feldman, R. S., Meyer, J. S., & Quenzer, L. F. (1997). Acetylcholine. In Principles of Neuropsychoparhmacology (pp. 246–249). Sunderland: Sinauer Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Iversen, L. L., Iversen, S. D., Bloom, F. E., & Roth, R. H. (2008). Acetylcholine. In Introduction to Neuropsychopharmacology (pp. 128–149). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Orgogozo, J.-M. (2003). Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with cholinesterase inhibitors. An update on currently used drugs. In K. Iqbal & B. Winblad (Eds.), Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders: Research advances (pp. 663–675). Bucharest: Ana Asian Intl. Acad. of Aging.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Center for Epidemiologic StudiesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA