Donepezil is a central nervous system selective, reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that degrades acetylcholine (ACh), a neurotransmitter involved in the pathogenesis of autism-related behavioral deficits such as inattention, decreased cognitive flexibility, lack of social and communication abilities, and increased stereotypical behaviors. Thus, donepezil serves to increase levels and action duration of ACh in the hopes of reversing abnormal phenotypes caused by deficits in ACh production and/or receptor function. Currently, donepezil is most widely used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Its effectiveness has also been demonstrated in vascular and Parkinson’s-associated dementia. In ASD, donepezil has demonstrated improvements mainly in expressive language but also in terms of general behavior, i.e., irritability, hyperactivity, eye contact, and inappropriate speech. Evidence also suggests donepezil’s...
KeywordsSleep Duration Receptor Function General Behavior Cognitive Flexibility Stereotypical Behavior
References and Reading
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- Handen, B. L., Johnson, C. R., McAuliffe-Bellin, S., Murray, P. J., & Hardan, A. Y. (2011). Safety and efficacy of donepezil in children and adolescents with autism: Neuropsychological measures. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 21(1), 43–50.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar