Too little acetylcholine leads to delirium, the deterioration in cognitive abilities that is symptomatic of dementia, notes Hshieh et al. in The Journals of Gerontology. This deficiency can be caused by genetic factors, stroke, disorders of the immune system or an imbalance between acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters and enzymes.
Ingestion of drugs and toxins can also cause a deficit in acetylcholine, says Hshieh et al. Studies show that people exposed to drugs had more severe cases of delirium. Researchers are studying the role of cholinesterase inhibitors to treat the memory loss that comes with acetylcholine deficiency, explains DementiaGuide. Cholinesterase is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.