Predictors of placebo group decline in the Alzheimer's disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) in 24 week clinical trials of Alzheimer's disease

Michael C Irizarry, David J Webb, Chanchal Bains, Steven J Barrett, Robert Y Lai, Janette P Laroche, David Hosford, Gareth Maher-Edwards, John G Weil
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease: JAD 2008, 14 (3): 301-11
One limitation of several recent 24 week Alzheimer's disease (AD) clinical trials was the lack of cognitive decline detected by the AD Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) in the placebo groups, possibly obscuring true medication effects. Data from 733 individuals in the placebo arms of six AD clinical trials performed 1996-1997 were pooled to examine the relationship of clinical, demographic, and genetic characteristics with the 24 week change in ADAS-cog. Baseline cognitive and functional status and the screening-to-baseline change in ADAS-cog were the strongest independent predictors of the 24 week change in ADAS-cog. The ADAS-cog did not detect progression in patients with mild dementia (screening Mini-Mental State Exam, MMSE, >or=20). The change in ADAS-cog from screening to baseline was inversely correlated with the 24 week change score; it was more difficult to detect cognitive decline at 24 weeks if individuals markedly worsened from screening to baseline. The effects of baseline MMSE and screening-to-baseline change in ADAS-cog generalized to the placebo group (N=106) of another AD study performed in 2004-2005. Overcoming lack of placebo decline in AD clinical trials will require scales more sensitive to cognitive decline in mild AD and strategies to reduce within-person variability in outcome measures.

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