Donepezil across the spectrum of Alzheimer's disease: dose optimization and clinical relevance

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an irreversible and progressive neurodegenerative disorder. AD is the most common cause of dementia worldwide, and its incidence is increasing in line with population aging. The primary feature of AD is progressive cognitive decline, and severe AD is characterized by reduced communication skills and mobility. However, successful treatment can substantially improve quality of life. Donepezil is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor approved for use across the full spectrum of mild, moderate, and severe AD. Donepezil has been available at doses of 5 or 10 mg once daily for more than a decade and, more recently, a single high once-daily sustained-release 23-mg dose has been approved for treatment of patients with moderate to severe AD. The rationale for the higher dose formulation was the expected increase in acetylcholinesterase inhibition given the dose–response relationship of donepezil, with the benefits of the higher dose being most apparent in patients with more advanced AD. Donepezil 5 and 10 mg/day have been well studied in mild-to-moderate AD, and a clinical trial has confirmed the benefits of donepezil 23 mg/day in patients with moderate to severe AD, particularly for language and visuospatial ability. This review presents an overview of the evidence for donepezil across the spectrum of AD, with a focus on dose optimization for disease progression.

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