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Effects of Donepezil on Emotional/Behavioral Symptoms in Alzheimer's Disease Patients

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(7):487-492

Background: This open-label study examined the effects of the reversible cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil on emotional/behavioral symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients.

Method: Patients were diagnosed as having probable/possible AD by National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke/Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCDS/ADRDA) criteria. This study used the CERAD Behavior Rating Scale for Dementia (CBRSD) and its subscales to evaluate a group of 25 AD patients treated with donepezil. Dosage was increased at 4 months for most patients from 5 to 10 mg q.h.s. Analysis of variance was used to compare scores over a period of 12 months. These patients were also compared, using t tests, to a reference group that had received no donepezil or other anticholinesterase.

Results: Donepezil administration was associated with improvement in Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and CBRSD total scores at 3-month evaluation (p <= .05). CBRSD depression and behavioral dysregulation scores improved transiently at 4 months (p <= .05). MMSE, CBRSD total, CBRSD depression, and CBRSD behavioral dysregulation scores returned to baseline levels at 12 months, in contrast to the reference group, whose MMSE and CBRSD total scores worsened minimally over the 12 months.

Conclusion: Donepezil has a mildly positive effect on emotional/behavioral symptoms in AD in addition to its effect on cognitive function.