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1.  Drug Repositioning: An Opportunity to Develop Novel Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease 
Pharmaceuticals  2013;6(10):1304-1321.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, affecting approximately two thirds of the 35 million people worldwide with the condition. Despite this, effective treatments are lacking, and there are no drugs that elicit disease modifying effects to improve outcome. There is an urgent need to develop and evaluate more effective pharmacological treatments. Drug repositioning offers an exciting opportunity to repurpose existing licensed treatments for use in AD, with the benefit of providing a far more rapid route to the clinic than through novel drug discovery approaches. This review outlines the current most promising candidates for repositioning in AD, their supporting evidence and their progress through trials to date. Furthermore, it begins to explore the potential of new transcriptomic and microarray techniques to consider the future of drug repositioning as a viable approach to drug discovery.
doi:10.3390/ph6101304
PMCID: PMC3817602  PMID: 24275851
Alzheimer’s; repositioning; treatment; drug
2.  Evidence that PICALM affects age at onset of Alzheimer's dementia in Down syndrome 
Neurobiology of Aging  2013;34(10):2441.e1-2441.e5.
It is known that individuals with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease with an early age at onset, although associated genetic risk factors have not been widely studied. We tested whether genes that increase the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease influence the age at onset in Down syndrome using genome-wide association data for age at onset of dementia in a small sample of individuals (N = 67) with Down syndrome. We tested for association with loci previously associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk and, despite the small size of the study, we detected associations with age at onset of Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome with PICALM (β = 3.31, p = 0.011) and the APOE loci (β = 3.58, p = 0.014). As dementia in people with Down syndrome is relatively understudied, we make all of these data publicly available to encourage further analyses of the problem of Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.03.018
PMCID: PMC3898582  PMID: 23601808
Genome-wide association study; Down syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease; PICALM; APOE
4.  Feasibility study of an optimised person-centred intervention to improve mental health and reduce antipsychotics amongst people with dementia in care homes: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:13.
Background
People living in care homes often have complex mental and physical health problems, disabilities and social needs which are compounded by the use of psychiatric and other drugs. In the UK dementia care is a national priority with a vast impact on services. WHELD combines the most effective elements of existing approaches to develop a comprehensive but practical intervention. This will be achieved by training care staff to provide care that is focused on an understanding of the individual and their needs; and by using additional components such as exercise, activities and social interaction to improve mental health and quality of life (QoL) and reduce the use of sedative drugs.
Design
Work Package 3 (WP3) is the pilot randomised trial and qualitative evaluation to help develop a future definitive randomised controlled clinical trial. The study design is a cluster randomised 2x2x2 factorial design with two replications in 16 care homes. Each care home is randomized to receive one of the eight possible permutations of the four key interventions, with each possible combination delivered in two of the 16 homes. Each cluster includes a minimum of 12 participants (depending upon size of the care home, the number of people with dementia and the number consenting).
Discussion
The overarching goal of the programme is to provide an effective, simple and practical intervention which improves the mental health of, and reduces sedative drug use in, people with dementia in care homes and which can be implemented nationally in all UK care homes as an NHS intervention.
Trial Registration
Current controlled trials ISRCTN40313497
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-13
PMCID: PMC3617007  PMID: 23305152
Dementia; Care homes; Quality of life; Antipsychotic medication; Behavioural symptoms; Cost-effectiveness; Implementation; Person-centred care; Exercise; Social interaction
6.  Optimised Anaesthesia to Reduce Post Operative Cognitive Decline (POCD) in Older Patients Undergoing Elective Surgery, a Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e37410.
Background
The study determined the one year incidence of post operative cognitive decline (POCD) and evaluated the effectiveness of an intra-operative anaesthetic intervention in reducing post-operative cognitive impairment in older adults (over 60 years of age) undergoing elective orthopaedic or abdominal surgery.
Methods and Trial Design
The design was a prospective cohort study with a nested randomised, controlled intervention trial, using intra-operative BiSpectral index and cerebral oxygen saturation monitoring to enable optimisation of anaesthesia depth and cerebral oxygen saturation in older adults undergoing surgery.
Results
In the 52 week prospective cohort study (192 surgical patients and 138 controls), mild (χ2 = 17.9 p<0.0001), moderate (χ2 = 7.8 p = 0.005) and severe (χ2 = 5.1 p = 0.02) POCD were all significantly higher after 52 weeks in the surgical patients than among the age matched controls. In the nested RCT, 81 patients were randomized, 73 contributing to the data analysis (34 intervention, 39 control). In the intervention group mild POCD was significantly reduced at 1, 12 and 52 weeks (Fisher’s Exact Test p = 0.018, χ2 = 5.1 p = 0.02 and χ2 = 5.9 p = 0.015), and moderate POCD was reduced at 1 and 52 weeks (χ2 = 4.4 p = 0·037 and χ2 = 5.4 p = 0.02). In addition there was significant improvement in reaction time at all time-points (Vigilance Reaction Time MWU Z =  −2.1 p = 0.03, MWU Z = −2.7 p = 0.004, MWU Z = −3.0 p = 0.005), in MMSE at one and 52 weeks (MWU Z = −2.9 p = 0.003, MWU Z = −3.3 p = 0.001), and in executive function at 12 and 52 weeks (Trail Making MWU Z = −2.4 p = .0.018, MWU Z = −2.4 p = 0.019).
Conclusion
POCD is common and persistent in older adults following surgery. The results of the nested RCT indicate the potential benefits of intra-operative monitoring of anaesthetic depth and cerebral oxygenation as a pragmatic intervention to reduce post-operative cognitive impairment.
Trial Registration
Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN39503939
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037410
PMCID: PMC3376123  PMID: 22719840
7.  Efficacy of Memantine for Agitation in Alzheimer’s Dementia: A Randomised Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e35185.
Background
Agitation in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is common and associated with poor patient life-quality and carer distress. The best evidence-based pharmacological treatments are antipsychotics which have limited benefits with increased morbidity and mortality. There are no memantine trials in clinically significant agitation but post-hoc analyses in other populations found reduced agitation. We tested the primary hypothesis, memantine is superior to placebo for clinically significant agitation, in patients with moderate-to-severe AD.
Methods and Findings
We recruited 153 participants with AD and clinically significant agitation from care-homes or hospitals for a double-blind randomised-controlled trial and 149 people started the trial of memantine versus placebo. The primary outcome was 6 weeks mixed model autoregressive analysis of Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI). Secondary outcomes were: 12 weeks CMAI; 6 and 12 weeks Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPI), Clinical Global Impression Change (CGI-C), Standardised Mini Mental State Examination, Severe Impairment Battery. Using a mixed effects model we found no significant differences in the primary outcome, 6 weeks CMAI, between memantine and placebo (memantine lower −3.0; −8.3 to 2.2, p = 0.26); or 12 weeks CMAI; or CGI-C or adverse events at 6 or 12 weeks. NPI mean difference favoured memantine at weeks 6 (−6.9; −12.2 to −1.6; p = 0.012) and 12 (−9.6; −15.0 to −4.3 p = 0.0005). Memantine was significantly better than placebo for cognition. The main study limitation is that it still remains to be determined whether memantine has a role in milder agitation in AD.
Conclusions
Memantine did not improve significant agitation in people with in moderate-to-severe AD. Future studies are urgently needed to test other pharmacological candidates in this group and memantine for neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00371059
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial 24953404
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035185
PMCID: PMC3342281  PMID: 22567095
8.  Cerebrospinal Fluid Levels of sAPPα and sAPPβ in Lewy Body and Alzheimer's Disease: Clinical and Neurochemical Correlates 
We measured cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of the soluble isoforms of amyloid precursor protein (APP; sAPPα sAPPβ) and other CSF biomarkers in 107 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), dementia with Lewy body dementia (DLB), Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD), and normal controls (NC) using commercial kits. DLB and PDD were combined in a Lewy body dementia group (LBD). No differences were observed in sAPPα and sAPPβ levels between the groups. Significant correlations were observed between sAPPα and sAPPβ and between sAPPβ and Mini-Mental State Examination scores in the total group analysis as well as when LBD and AD groups were analyzed separately. sAPPα and sAPPβ levels correlated with Aβ38, Aβ40, Aβ42, and Tau in the LBD group. In AD, sAPPα correlated with p-Tau and sAPPβ with Aβ40. The differential association between sAPPα and sAPPβ with Aβ and Tau species between LBD and AD groups suggests a possible relationship with the underlying pathologies in LBD and AD.
doi:10.4061/2011/495025
PMCID: PMC3182340  PMID: 21966597
9.  Efficacy of treating pain to reduce behavioural disturbances in residents of nursing homes with dementia: cluster randomised clinical trial 
Objective To determine whether a systematic approach to the treatment of pain can reduce agitation in people with moderate to severe dementia living in nursing homes.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting 60 clusters (single independent nursing home units) in 18 nursing homes within five municipalities of western Norway.
Participants 352 residents with moderate to severe dementia and clinically significant behavioural disturbances randomised to a stepwise protocol for the treatment of pain for eight weeks with additional follow-up four weeks after the end of treatment (33 clusters; n=175) or to usual treatment (control, 27 clusters; n=177).
Intervention Participants in the intervention group received individual daily treatment of pain for eight weeks according to the stepwise protocol, with paracetamol (acetaminophen), morphine, buprenorphine transdermal patch, or pregabaline. The control group received usual treatment and care.
Main outcome measures Primary outcome measure was agitation (scores on Cohen-Mansfield agitation inventory). Secondary outcome measures were aggression (scores on neuropsychiatric inventory-nursing home version), pain (scores on mobilisation-observation-behaviour-intensity-dementia-2), activities of daily living, and cognition (mini-mental state examination).
Results Agitation was significantly reduced in the intervention group compared with control group after eight weeks (repeated measures analysis of covariance adjusting for baseline score, P<0.001): the average reduction in scores for agitation was 17% (treatment effect estimate −7.0, 95% confidence interval −3.7 to −10.3). Treatment of pain was also significantly beneficial for the overall severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms (−9.0, −5.5 to −12.6) and pain (−1.3, −0.8 to −1.7), but the groups did not differ significantly for activities of daily living or cognition.
Conclusion A systematic approach to the management of pain significantly reduced agitation in residents of nursing homes with moderate to severe dementia. Effective management of pain can play an important part in the treatment of agitation and could reduce the number of unnecessary prescriptions for psychotropic drugs in this population.
Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01021696 and Norwegian Medicines Agency EudraCTnr 2008-007490-20.
doi:10.1136/bmj.d4065
PMCID: PMC3137923  PMID: 21765198
10.  Identification of Novel α-Synuclein Isoforms in Human Brain Tissue by using an Online NanoLC-ESI-FTICR-MS Method 
Neurochemical Research  2011;36(11):2029-2042.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by intra-neuronal inclusions of Lewy bodies in distinct brain regions. These inclusions consist mainly of aggregated α-synuclein (α-syn) protein. The present study used immunoprecipitation combined with nanoflow liquid chromatography (LC) coupled to high resolution electrospray ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-FTICR-MS/MS) to determine known and novel isoforms of α-syn in brain tissue homogenates. N-terminally acetylated full-length α-syn (Ac-α-syn1–140) and two N-terminally acetylated C-terminally truncated forms of α-syn (Ac-α-syn1–139 and Ac-α-syn1–103) were found. The different forms of α-syn were further studied by Western blotting in brain tissue homogenates from the temporal cortex Brodmann area 36 (BA36) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex BA9 derived from controls, patients with DLB and PD with dementia (PDD). Quantification of α-syn in each brain tissue fraction was performed using a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
doi:10.1007/s11064-011-0527-x
PMCID: PMC3183298  PMID: 21674238
Cerebrospinal fluid; Immunoprecipitation; Neurodegenerative diseases; Mass spectrometry; Synuclein
11.  An Intron 7 Polymorphism in APP Affects the Age of Onset of Dementia in Down Syndrome 
People with Down syndrome (DS) develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) with an early age of onset. A tetranucleotide repeat, attt5−8, in intron 7 of the amyloid precursor protein has been associated with the age of onset of AD in DS in a preliminary study. The authors examine the impact of this polymorphism in a larger cohort of individuals with DS. Adults with DS were genotyped for attt5−8 and APOE. The results were analysed with respect to the age of onset of dementia. The presence of three copies of the six-repeat allele resulted in onset of dementia seven years earlier than in the presence of other genotypes. Further study is essential to elucidate the mechanism by which this polymorphism functions, with an exciting opportunity to identify novel treatment targets relevant for people with DS and AD.
doi:10.4061/2011/929102
PMCID: PMC3010675  PMID: 21197396
12.  Putting brain training to the test 
Nature  2010;465(7299):775-778.
‘Brain training’, or the quest for improved cognitive function through the regular use of computerised tests, is a multimillion pound industry1, yet scientific evidence to support its efficacy is lacking. Modest effects have been reported in some studies of older individuals2,3 and preschool children4, and video gamers out perform non-gamers on some tests of visual attention5. However, the widely held belief that commercially available computerised brain trainers improve general cognitive function in the wider population lacks empirical support. The central question is not whether performance on cognitive tests can be improved by training, but rather, whether those benefits transfer to other untrained tasks or lead to any general improvement in the level of cognitive functioning. Here we report the results of a six-week online study in which 11,430 participants trained several times each week on cognitive tasks designed to improve reasoning, memory, planning, visuospatial skills and attention. Although improvements were observed in every one of the cognitive tasks that were trained, no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related.
doi:10.1038/nature09042
PMCID: PMC2884087  PMID: 20407435
13.  Parkinson's disease with dementia: comparing patients with and without Alzheimer pathology 
Subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD) frequently develop dementia with greater than one-third meeting neuropathologic diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The objective is to identify clinical and neuropathological differences between PDD (PD with dementia) subjects, with and without coexistent AD pathology. Neuropathologic examination was available on subjects diagnosed by clinicopathologic criteria with PDD-AD (N = 23) and PDD+AD (N = 28). A small subset of subjects with PDD-AD and PDD+AD had received at least one standardized neuropsychological assessment. PDD+AD subjects were significantly older at age of PD onset and death, progressed to onset of dementia in less time, and had a shorter duration of PD symptoms prior to the onset of dementia. Education, responsiveness of L-Dopa and dopaminergic medications, presence of cognitive fluctuations and hallucinations, mean MMSE, GDS, FAST and UPDRS scores did not differ significantly between the two groups. The PDD+AD group had significantly greater total plaques, neuritic plaques, total tangles, and Braak stages compared to PDD-AD. This study suggests that it is difficult to distinguish PDD+AD and PDD-AD on the basis of movement, clinical, and neuropsychological assessment. PDD-AD and PDD+AD have similar degrees of dementia and approximately half of PDD subjects have enough AD pathology to attain a neuropathological diagnosis of AD. PDD can develop in the absence of significant Alzheimer pathology.
doi:10.1097/WAD.0b013e31819c5ef4
PMCID: PMC2760034  PMID: 19812474
Parkinson' disease with dementia; Alzheimer's Disease; Dementia with Lewy Bodies; assessment of dementia
14.  DOMINO-AD protocol: donepezil and memantine in moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease – a multicentre RCT 
Trials  2009;10:57.
Background
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the commonest cause of dementia. Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil, are the drug class with the best evidence of efficacy, licensed for mild to moderate AD, while the glutamate antagonist memantine has been widely prescribed, often in the later stages of AD. Memantine is licensed for moderate to severe dementia in AD but is not recommended by the England and Wales National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. However, there is little evidence to guide clinicians as to what to prescribe as AD advances; in particular, what to do as the condition progresses from moderate to severe. Options include continuing cholinesterase inhibitors irrespective of decline, adding memantine to cholinesterase inhibitors, or prescribing memantine instead of cholinesterase inhibitors. The aim of this trial is to establish the most effective drug option for people with AD who are progressing from moderate to severe dementia despite treatment with donepezil.
Method
DOMINO-AD is a pragmatic, 15 centre, double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. Patients with AD, currently living at home, receiving donepezil 10 mg daily, and with Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) scores between 5 and 13 are being recruited. Each is randomized to one of four treatment options: continuation of donepezil with memantine placebo added; switch to memantine with donepezil placebo added; donepezil and memantine together; or donepezil placebo with memantine placebo. 800 participants are being recruited and treatment continues for one year. Primary outcome measures are cognition (SMMSE) and activities of daily living (Bristol Activities of Daily Living Scale). Secondary outcomes are non-cognitive dementia symptoms (Neuropsychiatric Inventory), health related quality of life (EQ-5D and DEMQOL-proxy), carer burden (General Health Questionnaire-12), cost effectiveness (using Client Service Receipt Inventory) and institutionalization. These outcomes are assessed at baseline, 6, 18, 30 and 52 weeks. All participants will be subsequently followed for 3 years by telephone interview to record institutionalization.
Discussion
There is considerable debate about the clinical and cost effectiveness of anti-dementia drugs. DOMINO-AD seeks to provide clear evidence on the best treatment strategies for those managing patients at a particularly important clinical transition point.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials ISRCTN49545035
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-10-57
PMCID: PMC2723100  PMID: 19630974
15.  Incidence and Prediction of Falls in Dementia: A Prospective Study in Older People 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5521.
Background
Falls are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in dementia, but there have been no prospective studies of risk factors for falling specific to this patient population, and no successful falls intervention/prevention trials. This prospective study aimed to identify modifiable risk factors for falling in older people with mild to moderate dementia.
Methods and Findings
179 participants aged over 65 years were recruited from outpatient clinics in the UK (38 Alzheimer's disease (AD), 32 Vascular dementia (VAD), 30 Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), 40 Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD), 39 healthy controls). A multifactorial assessment of baseline risk factors was performed and fall diaries were completed prospectively for 12 months. Dementia participants experienced nearly 8 times more incident falls (9118/1000 person-years) than controls (1023/1000 person-years; incidence density ratio: 7.58, 3.11–18.5). In dementia, significant univariate predictors of sustaining at least one fall included diagnosis of Lewy body disorder (proportional hazard ratio (HR) adjusted for age and sex: 3.33, 2.11–5.26), and history of falls in the preceding 12 months (HR: 2.52, 1.52–4.17). In multivariate analyses, significant potentially modifiable predictors were symptomatic orthostatic hypotension (HR: 2.13, 1.19–3.80), autonomic symptom score (HR per point 0–36: 1.055, 1.012–1.099), and Cornell depression score (HR per point 0–40: 1.053, 1.01–1.099). Higher levels of physical activity were protective (HR per point 0–9: 0.827, 0.716–0.956).
Conclusions
The management of symptomatic orthostatic hypotension, autonomic symptoms and depression, and the encouragement of physical activity may provide the core elements for the most fruitful strategy to reduce falls in people with dementia. Randomised controlled trials to assess such a strategy are a priority.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005521
PMCID: PMC2677107  PMID: 19436724
16.  A Randomised, Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Dementia Patients Continuing or Stopping Neuroleptics (The DART-AD Trial)  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(4):e76.
Background
There have been increasing concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of neuroleptics in people with dementia, but there are very few long-term trials to inform clinical practice. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of long-term treatment with neuroleptic agents upon global cognitive decline and neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease.
Methods and Findings
Design: Randomised, blinded, placebo-controlled parallel two-group treatment discontinuation trial.
Setting: Oxfordshire, Newcastle and Gateshead, London and Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Participants: Patients currently prescribed the neuroleptics thioridazine, chlorpromazine, haloperidol trifluoperazine or risperidone for behavioural or psychiatric disturbance in dementia for at least 3 mo.
Interventions: Continue neuroleptic treatment for 12 mo or switch to an identical placebo.
Outcome measures: Primary outcome was total Severe Impairment Battery (SIB) score. Neuropsychiatric symptoms were evaluated with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI).
Results: 165 patients were randomised (83 to continue treatment and 82 to placebo, i.e., discontinue treatment), of whom 128 (78%) commenced treatment (64 continue/64 placebo). Of those, 26 were lost to follow-up (13 per arm), resulting in 51 patients per arm analysed for the primary outcome. There was no significant difference between the continue treatment and placebo groups in the estimated mean change in SIB scores between baseline and 6 mo; estimated mean difference in deterioration (favouring placebo) −0.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] −6.4 to 5.5), adjusted for baseline value (p = 0.9). For neuropsychiatric symptoms, there was no significant difference between the continue treatment and placebo groups (n = 56 and 53, respectively) in the estimated mean change in NPI scores between baseline and 6 mo; estimated mean difference in deterioration (favouring continue treatment) −2.4 (95% CI −8.2 to 3.5), adjusted for baseline value (p = 0.4). Both results became more pronounced at 12 mo. There was some evidence to suggest that those patients with initial NPI ≥ 15 benefited on neuropsychiatric symptoms from continuing treatment.
Conclusions
For most patients with AD, withdrawal of neuroleptics had no overall detrimental effect on functional and cognitive status. Neuroleptics may have some value in the maintenance treatment of more severe neuropsychiatric symptoms, but this benefit must be weighed against the side effects of therapy.
Trial registration: Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials/National Research Register (#ISRCTN33368770).
In a randomized trial of patients with dementia, Clive Ballard and colleagues show that withdrawal of neuroleptics had no overall detrimental effect, and by some measures improved, functional and cognitive status.
Editors' Summary
Background
The number of people with dementia (currently 25 million worldwide) is expected to increase by 5 million each year. The risk of dementia, including Alzheimer disease, increases sharply with age: Alzheimer's Disease International estimates that 1.4% of people 65–69 have dementia, whereas almost a full quarter of those over the age of 85 years are affected. Almost all older dementia patients will experience, along with the cognitive and functional decline typical of the illness, some neuropsychiatric symptoms. These symptoms can include agitation, aggression, and psychosis, and are often devastating for the older patient and his or her family and caregiver. Managing these symptoms is often a prime concern for health-care providers and families. Neuroleptics (sometimes called antipsychotics) are the class of drugs often used to manage or control neuropsychiatric problems, but there have been questions about their safety and appropriateness. Safety concerns involve risk of stroke, parkinsonism, sedation, edema, and chest infections but also include a worsening of cognitive decline with prolonged use of neuroleptics.
Why Was the Study Done?
Previous studies on the effectiveness and safety of neuroleptics in older people have been short term. Ballard and colleagues wanted to study over a longer period of time the impact of neuroleptic drugs on elderly patients with dementia. Specifically, they wanted to know if being on a neuroleptic was associated with more cognitive decline than coming off the drug. They also wanted to investigate whether discontinuing the drug exacerbated any neuropsychiatric symptoms, Parkinson disease-like symptoms, or other functional, language, and cognition difficulties frequently associated with dementia.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited older patients with Alzheimer disease from across England who had been on neuroleptics for at least three months. They randomised patients to one of two groups: the first group continued taking the same neuroleptic at the same dosage level while the second group was switched to an identical-looking placebo. The researchers assessed the patients' cognitive status and neuropsychiatric symptoms upon their entry into the study. Six and 12 months later the researchers assessed any cognitive decline and the level of neuropsychiatric and other problems that patients were experiencing.
At both 6 and 12 months, the researchers found that there were no differences between the two groups (continued treatment and placebo) in terms of cognitive decline. The placebo group may have had less cognitive decline, but this was not statistically significant. They also found no overall differences between the two groups in the change in the number of neuropsychiatric symptoms over these time periods. Patients with severe neuropsychiatric problems at the outset of the trial did better on continued neuroleptic therapy, but this advantage was not statistically significant. There was a significant decline on the verbal fluency language tests among the patients who continued on their neuroleptic.
What Do these Findings Mean?
The researchers report perhaps the first trial of this duration on continued versus withdrawn neuroleptic treatment among older dementia patients. The findings do not indicate any benefit of continuing neuroleptic therapies in older patients on either cognitive or neuropsychiatric outcomes. The researchers conclude that neuroleptics, with their known safety issues, should not be used as first-line treatment to manage problems such as agitation or aggression. For older dementia patients whose neuropsychiatric symptoms are not remedied by nonpharmaceutical treatments, the researchers advise caution. More studies are urgently needed to find better solutions to help older patients with dementia who have agitation, aggression, and psychosis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050076.
Alzheimer's Disease International is an umbrella organisation of organisations worldwide
The Alzheimer's Research Trust in the UK is a charity funding research to cure or prevent dementias
The US National Institutes of Aging has information on Alzheimer Disease in English and Spanish
Two governmental regulatory agencies—the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK and the Food and Drug Administration in the US—offer information about antipsychotics in people with dementia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050076
PMCID: PMC2276521  PMID: 18384230
18.  Effect of enhanced psychosocial care on antipsychotic use in nursing home residents with severe dementia: cluster randomised trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7544):756-761.
Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of a training and support intervention for nursing home staff in reducing the proportion of residents with dementia who are prescribed neuroleptics.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial with blinded assessment of outcome.
Setting 12 specialist nursing homes for people with dementia in London, Newcastle, and Oxford.
Participants Residents of the 12 nursing homes; numbers varied during the study period.
Intervention Training and support intervention delivered to nursing home staff over 10 months, focusing on alternatives to drugs for the management of agitated behaviour in dementia.
Main outcome measures Proportion of residents in each home who were prescribed neuroleptics and mean levels of agitated and disruptive behaviour (Cohen-Mansfield agitation inventory) in each home at 12 months.
Results At 12 months the proportion of residents taking neuroleptics in the intervention homes (23.0%) was significantly lower than that in the control homes (42.1%): average reduction in neuroleptic use 19.1% (95% confidence interval 0.5% to 37.7%). No significant differences were found in the levels of agitated or disruptive behaviour between intervention and control homes.
Conclusions Promotion of person centred care and good practice in the management of patients with dementia with behavioural symptoms provides an effective alternative to neuroleptics.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38782.575868.7C
PMCID: PMC1420717  PMID: 16543297
19.  Quetiapine and rivastigmine and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;330(7496):874.
Objectives To determine the respective efficacy of quetiapine and rivastigmine for agitation in people with dementia in institutional care and to evaluate these treatments with respect to change in cognitive performance.
Design Randomised double blind (clinician, patient, outcomes assessor) placebo controlled trial.
Setting Care facilities in the north east of England.
Participants 93 patients with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and clinically significant agitation.
Intervention Atypical antipsychotic (quetiapine), cholinesterase inhibitor (rivastigmine), or placebo (double dummy).
Main outcome measures Agitation (Cohen-Mansfield agitation inventory) and cognition (severe impairment battery) at baseline and at six weeks and 26 weeks. The primary outcome was agitation inventory at six weeks.
Results 31 patients were randomised to each group, and 80 (86%) started treatment (25 rivastigmine, 26 quetiapine, 29 placebo), of whom 71 (89%) tolerated the maximum protocol dose (22 rivastigmine, 23 quetiapine, 26 placebo). Compared with placebo, neither group showed significant differences in improvement on the agitation inventory either at six weeks or 26 weeks. Fifty six patients scored > 10 on the severe impairment battery at baseline, 46 (82%) of whom were included in the analysis at six week follow up (14 rivastigmine, 14 quetiapine, 18 placebo). For quetiapine the change in severe impairment battery score from baseline was estimated as an average of –14.6 points (95% confidence interval –25.3 to –4.0) lower (that is, worse) than in the placebo group at six weeks (P = 0.009) and –15.4 points (–27.0 to –3.8) lower at 26 weeks (P = 0.01). The corresponding changes with rivastigmine were –3.5 points (–13.1 to 6.2) lower at six weeks (P = 0.5) and –7.5 points (–21.0 to 6.0) lower at 26 weeks (P = 0.3).
Conclusions Neither quetiapine nor rivastigmine are effective in the treatment of agitation in people with dementia in institutional care. Compared with placebo, quetiapine is associated with significantly greater cognitive decline.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38369.459988.8F
PMCID: PMC556156  PMID: 15722369
20.  Sensory stimulation in dementia  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7376):1312-1313.
PMCID: PMC1124787  PMID: 12468458
22.  Drugs for Alzheimer's disease  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7305):123-124.
PMCID: PMC1120769  PMID: 11463665

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