Oestrogen Drug May Not Benefit Women With Alzheimer’s Dementia

MINNEAPOLIS -- November 4, 2015 -- An oestrogen-like drug, raloxifene, has no demonstrated benefit on memory and thinking skills for women with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the November 4, 2015, online issue of the journal Neurology.

“Drugs that interact with oestrogen receptors have attracted a great deal of interest as a potential treatment for women with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, but relatively small studies of oestrogen have generally failed to confirm any benefit,” said Victor Henderson, MD, Stanford University, Stanford, California. “Prior to this study, raloxifene had not been evaluated as an Alzheimer treatment.”

For the study, 42 women with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease were separated into 2 groups and given raloxifene or placebo for 12 months. The women were assessed on their memory and other mental functions at the start of the trial and then every 3 months. They were also evaluated on how well they could complete daily activities, and their family members or caregivers were asked about their caregiver burden and stress at the start, middle, and end of the study.

The results on the cognitive skills tests did not differ significantly between the placebo group and the group taking raloxifene. There were also no significant differences reported by family members and caregivers on the amount of caregiver burden or stress or in daily activities.

Dr. Henderson noted that the study was not designed to detect small effects from raloxifene in the range of that provided by approved Alzheimer’s drugs such as donepezil or memantine.

“We found that the drug did not have any significant effect on patients after 1 year,” said Dr. Henderson. “If there are cognitive effects in this population, these effects are likely to be no more than small. These results may be valuable if future trials of raloxifene are considered.”

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology
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