Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors

Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) terminates the action of acetylcholine (ACh) at the junctions of the various cholinergic nerve endings with their effector organs or postsynaptic sites. Inhibitors of AChE, or anticholinesterase (anti-ChE) agents, cause ACh to accumulate in the vicinity of cholinergic nerve terminals and thus can produce effects equivalent to excessive stimulation of cholinergic receptors throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems; such is the basis of their clinical use and their adverse effects. Since cholinergic neurotransmission is widely distributed across animal species, anti-ChE agents are also effective toxins (e.g., agricultural insecticides, pesticides, and, regrettably, chemical warfare "nerve gases").

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