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Long-acting exenatide does not prevent cognitive decline in mild cognitive impairment: a proof-of-concept clinical trial.

PURPOSE: According to preclinical evidence, GLP-1 receptor may be an actionable target in neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous clinical trials of GLP-1 receptor agonists were conducted in patients with early AD, yielding mixed results. The aim was to assess in a proof-of-concept study whether slow-release exenatide, a long-acting GLP-1 agonist, can benefit the cognitive performance of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

METHODS: Thirty-two (16 females) patients were randomized to either slow-release exenatide (n = 17; 2 mg s.c. once a week) or no treatment (n = 15) for 32 weeks. The primary endpoint was the change in ADAS-Cog11 cognitive test score at 32 weeks vs baseline. Secondary endpoints herein reported included additional cognitive tests and plasma readouts of GLP-1 receptor engagement. Statistical analysis was conducted by intention to treat.

RESULTS: No significant between-group effects of exenatide on ADAS-Cog11 score (p = 0.17) were detected. A gender interaction with treatment was observed (p = 0.04), due to worsening of the ADAS-Cog11 score in women randomized to exenatide (p = 0.018), after correction for age, scholar level, dysglycemia, and ADAS-Cog score baseline value. Fasting plasma glucose (p = 0.02) and body weight (p = 0.03) decreased in patients randomized to exenatide.

CONCLUSION: In patients with MCI, a 32-week trial with slow-release exenatide had no beneficial effect on cognitive performance.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03881371, registered on 21 July, 2016.

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