Congratulations to 3rd year student, Alex Weigand for her first-author publication in Neurology “Association of anticholinergic medication and AD biomarkers with incidence of MCI among cognitively normal older adults” being selected for a press release by both the journal and UC San Diego. It was also picked up by 40+ news outlets including Psychology Today, US News and World Report, and Science Daily, to name a few.

UC San Diego press release:

Common Class of Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Anticholinergic medications are used for many conditions but might also accelerate cognitive decline, especially in older persons with biological or genetic risk factors

September 04, 2020  |  Scott LaFee

A team of scientists, led by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, report that a class of drugs used for a broad array of conditions, from allergies and colds to hypertension and urinary incontinence, may be associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline, particularly in older adults at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The findings were published in the September 2, 2020 online issue of Neurology , the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Anticholinergic drugs are widely used for dozens of conditions, minor and major. Some of these medications require a prescription, while others can be purchased over the counter. They work by blocking acetylcholine — a type of neurotransmitter or chemical messenger known to be critical for memory function — from binding to receptors on certain nerve cells. The effect is to inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses, which are involved in a variety of involuntary muscle movements, such as those in the gastrointestinal tract and lungs, and bodily functions like salivation, digestion and urination.

Researchers reported that cognitively normal study participants who were taking at least one anticholinergic drug at baseline were 47 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to dementia such as AD, while being tracked over a period of up to a decade compared to participants who did not take such drugs.

“This study, led by Alexandra Weigand, suggests that reducing anticholinergic drug use before cognitive problems appear may be important for preventing future negative effects on memory and thinking skills, especially for people at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said senior author Lisa Delano-Wood, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Weigand is a graduate student in the San Diego State University/University of California San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

Continue to read the full press release