Acetylcholine has been implicated in both the pathophysiology and treatment of a number of psychiatric disorders, with most of the data related to its role and therapeutic potential focusing on schizophrenia. However, there is little thought given to the consequences of the documented changes in the cholinergic system and how they may affect the functioning of the brain. This review looks at the cholinergic system and its interactions with the intrinsic neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-amino butyric acid as well as those with the projection neurotransmitters most implicated in the pathophysiologies of psychiatric disorders; dopamine and serotonin. In addition, with the recent focus on the role of factors normally associated with inflammation in the pathophysiologies of psychiatric disorders, links between the cholinergic system and these factors will also be examined. These interfaces are put into context, primarily for schizophrenia, by looking at the changes in each of these systems in the disorder and exploring, theoretically, whether the changes are interconnected with those seen in the cholinergic system. Thus, this review will provide a comprehensive overview of the connectivity between the cholinergic system and some of the major areas of research into the pathophysiologies of psychiatric disorders, resulting in a critical appraisal of the potential outcomes of a dysregulated central cholinergic system.
Keywords: acetylcholine, psychiatric disorders, glutamate, GABA, dopamine, serotonin, cytokines
Citation: Scarr E, Gibbons AS, Neo J, Udawela M and Dean B (2013) Cholinergic connectivity: it's implications for psychiatric disorders. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 7:55. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2013.00055
Received: 02 January 2013; Accepted: 12 April 2013;
Published online: 03 May 2013.
Edited by:Chao Deng, University of Wollongong, Australia
Reviewed by:Hermona Soreq, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Copyright © 2013 Scarr, Gibbons, Neo, Udawela and Dean. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
*Correspondence: Elizabeth Scarr, Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Brain Centre, The University of Melbourne, Kenneth Myer Building, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org