PMID: 7993526Aug 1, 1994Paper

High ammonia levels decrease brain acetylcholinesterase activity both in vivo and in vitro

Molecular and Chemical Neuropathology
E KosenkoV Felipo


We have tested the effect of ammonium injection on the activity of acetylcholinesterase in rat brain. Fifteen minutes after ip injection of 7 mmol/kg of ammonium acetate, the activity of acetylcholinesterase in brain was reduced significantly. The inhibitory effect varied in a wide range, with a maximum decrease of 60%, and was proportional to the concentration of ammonia reached in the brain. It is also shown that ammonium salts added in vitro to the assay mixture inhibit acetylcholinesterase in brain homogenates competitively. The Ki values for inhibition of the enzyme in vitro were 7.2 and 8.5 mM for ammonium acetate and ammonium chloride, respectively, when acetylcholinesterase was assayed in rat brain homogenates, and 7.6 and 8.3 mM when assayed in mice brain homogenates. These results suggest that at least part of the neurologic effects of ammonia could be mediated by an increase of acetylcholine as a consequence of the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase.


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