Serotonergic modulation of anticholinergic effects on cognition and behavior in elderly humans

J. T. Little, A. Broocks, A. Martin, J. L. Hill, L. E. Tune, C. Mack, M. Cantillon, S. Molchan, D. L. Murphy, T. Sunderland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Cholinergic neurotransmission is thought to be modulated by serotonin as documented in animal and human studies. We examined the effects of the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine (0.4 mg IV) given alone or together with the serotonin mixed agonist/antagonist m-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP, 0.08 mg/kg IV), and the selective 5-HT3 receptor antagonist ondansetron (0.15 mg/kg IV). Ten normal elderly volunteers each received five separate pharmacologic challenges (placebo, ondansetron, scopolamine, scopolamine + ondansetron, and scopolamine + m-CPP). Cognitive, behavioral, and physiologic variables were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance. The acute effects of scopolamine in certain cognitive, behavioral, and physiological measures were significantly exaggerated by the addition of m-CPP. Scopolamine's cognitive effects were unaffected by ondansetron at the dose tested, nor did ondansetron given alone affect basal cognitive performance. This pilot study suggests that the serotonin mixed agonist/antagonist m-CPP may influence cholinergic neurotransmission. The changes associated with the combination of scopolamine and m-CPP do not appear to be secondary to simple pharmacokinetic alterations and suggest a complex interaction between the cholinergic and serotonergic systems centrally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1995


  • Cognitive pharmacologic modeling
  • Geriatrics
  • Ondansetron
  • Scopolamine
  • m-Chlorophenylpiperazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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