Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

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

Cholinesterase Inhibitors

  • Stephanie Behrens
  • JoAnn TschanzEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_493


Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; AchEIs; CHEIs; ChEIs


A class of medications that targets the cholinergic neurotransmitter system and is used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The treatment is based on the observation of a cholinergic deficiency in the condition. Cholinesterase inhibitors (CHEI) block the activity of acetylcholinesterase, the primary enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, allowing the neurotransmitter substance to remain in the synaptic cleft longer in order to stimulate postsynaptic receptors. The oldest CHEI, Tacrine (Cognex), is infrequently prescribed due to its unsafe side effects. Other CHEIs include Donepezil (Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon), and Galantamine (Razadyne). The newest addition to the CHEI class is a combination treatment, Namzaric, consisting of donepezil and memantine, the latter being an N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor antagonist. CHEIs are modestly effective in short-term (6–12 months) improvement of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. 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
  2. Rountree, S. D., Atri, A., Lopez, O. L., & Doody, R. S. (2013). Effectiveness of antidementia drugs in delaying Alzheimer’s disease progression. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 9, 338–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Small, G., & Bullock, R. (2011). Defining optimal treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors in Alzheimer’s disease. Alxheimer’s & Dementia, 7, 177–184.CrossRefGoogle 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