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Side Effects of
5 HT3 Receptor Antagonists


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Alzheimer’s Disease (also called senile dementia) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with no known cure. However, a number of pharmacological agents have been shown to help with the symptoms of the disease and slow progression. These include cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA antagonists. Below is a table that provides examples of these drugs and when they are used to treat Alzheimer’s.

Examples of Alzheimer’s treatments:

Drug Metabolism MOA Use
Rivastigmine pseudocholinesterase Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor Mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease
Memantine Hepatic NMDA antagonist Moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease

Serious Side Effects of Alzheimer’s Medications

While Alzheimer’s medications are well tolerated by most, some users will experience severe side effects including:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • (Drug Class Review: Alzheimer’s Drugs: Final Report Oregon Health & Science University, 2006).

    Common Side Effects of Alzheimer’s Medication

    Cholinesterase inhibitors are associated with a number of common side effects, according to Drug Class Review: Alzheimer’s Drugs: Final Report. These include:

  • Hyperhidrosis (increased sweating)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Bradycardia (decreased heart rate)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • NMDA antagonists are associated with the following side effects:

  • Hypertension
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Malaise
  • Understand Your Risks with the Rxight® Genetic Test

    MD Labs’ Rxight® genetic screening test for medications (called “pharmacogenetic testing”) is designed to reduce the probability of suffering side effects when taking medications. Rxight® is based on the analysis (called SNP genotyping) of a number of genes, including those involved in the metabolism of Alzheimer’s Disease treatments, along with over 200 other clinically relevant With the results of the Rxight® test, your prescriber(s) can determine – preferably ahead of time – the dose that is right, instead of relying on trial and error, a process that can be both lengthy and dangerous for your loved one.

    How Does Pharmacogenetic Testing Work?

    Some patients suffer from no adverse medication reactions when taking treatment for Alzheimer’s whilst others may experience a number of side effects. This interpatient variability is largely accounted for by pharmacogenetics. Polymorphisms (inter-individual variation) in the genes that code for enzymes and chemical receptors that interact with medications can alter the probability of developing side effects. Some individuals metabolize particular medications quickly, resulting in drug inefficacy at standard doses, while others metabolize certain medications slowly, putting them at risk for side effects. Such metabolic differences can be understood by a genetic test. Thus, the prescriber and patient can use such information to decide if the medication is right for them.

    Contributors to this Article:
    Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry

    5 HT3 Receptor Antagonists Tested Include:

    • Dolasetron (Anzemet)
    • Ondansetron (Zofran, Zuplenz)
    • Palonosetron (Aloxi)

    Read more about Rxight® DNA Drug Testing Swabbing Mouth