JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Efficacy and safety of cognitive enhancers for patients with mild cognitive impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Andrea C Tricco, Charlene Soobiah, Shirra Berliner, Joanne M Ho, Carmen H Ng, Huda M Ashoor, Maggie H Chen, Brenda Hemmelgarn, Sharon E Straus
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal de L'Association Medicale Canadienne 2013 November 5, 185 (16): 1393-401
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BACKGROUND: Cognitive enhancers, including cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, are used to treat dementia, but their effectiveness for mild cognitive impairment is unclear. We conducted a systematic review to examine the efficacy and safety of cognitive enhancers for mild cognitive impairment.

METHODS: Our eligibility criteria were studies of the effects of donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine or memantine on mild cognitive impairment reporting cognition, function, behaviour, global status, and mortality or harms. We identified relevant material by searching electronic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, Embase), the references of included studies, trial registries and conference proceedings, and by contacting experts. Two reviewers independently screened the results of the literature search, abstracted data and appraised risk of bias using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool.

RESULTS: We screened 15,554 titles and abstracts and 1384 full-text articles. Eight randomized clinical trials and 3 companion reports met our inclusion criteria. We found no significant effects of cognitive enhancers on cognition (Mini-Mental State Examination: 3 randomized clinical trials [RCTs], mean difference [MD] 0.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.22 to 0.50; Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale - cognition subscale: 3 RCTs, standardized MD -0.07, 95% CI-0.16 to 0.01]) or function (Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study activities of daily living inventory: 2 RCTs, MD 0.30, 95% CI -0.26 to 0.86). Cognitive enhancers were associated with higher risks of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting than placebo.

INTERPRETATION: Cognitive enhancers did not improve cognition or function among patients with mild cognitive impairment and were associated with a greater risk of gastrointestinal harms. Our findings do not support the use of cognitive enhancers for mild cognitive impairment.

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