M1 agonists for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: Novel properties and clinical update

A. Fisher, E. Heldman, D. Gurwitz, R. Haring, Y. Karton, H. Meshulam, Z. Pittel, D. Marciano, R. Brandeis, E. Sadot, Y. Barg, R. Pinkas-Kramarski, Z. Vogel, I. Ginzburg, T. A. Treves, R. Verchovsky, S. Klimowsky, A. D. Korczyn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The AF series compounds, AF102B and congeners of AF150(S), are functionally selective agonists for m1 muscarinic receptors (m1AChRs). This is shown in stable transfected CHO and PC12 cells (PC12M1) with m1-m5AChRs and m1AChRs, respectively. AF102B and AF150(S) are partial agonists, but AF150, AF151, and AF151(S) are full agonists in stimulating phosphoinositides hydrolysis or arachidonic acid release in these cells. Yet, all these compounds behave as antagonists when compared with carbachol in elevating cAMP levels. In PC12M1 cells, unlike carbachol, the AF series compounds induce only minimal to moderate neurite outgrowth. Yet, these agonists synergize strongly with NGF, which by itself mediates only a mild response. Stimulation of m1AChRs by AF102B, AF150(S) and AF151(S) in PC12M1 cells enhances secretion of β/A4 amyloid precursor protein derivatives (APPs). The enhanced APPs secretion induced by AF102B is potentiated by NGF. AF102B also stimulates APPs secretion from rat cortical slices. Stimulation of m1AChR in PC12M1 cells with carbachol or AF102B decreases tau phosphorylation as indicated by specific tau-1 mAb and alkaline phosphatase treatment. Due to the above mentioned properties m1 agonists may be of unique value in delaying the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The AF series compounds show a wide safety margin and improve memory and learning deficits in animal models for AD. There is a dearth of clinical reports on m1 agonists. These include studies on AF102B and xanomeline, another m1 selective agonist. We tested AF102B in escalating doses of 20, 40, 60 mg, tid, po, (each dose for 2 weeks) for a total of 10 weeks. This was a single-blind placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in patients with probable AD. AF102B was significantly effective at 40 and 60 mg, tid in the ADAS, ADAS-cognitive and ADAS-word recognition scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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