Pharmacological treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background

A wide variety of pharmacological agents are used in the management of neuropsychiatric symptoms, which are common in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but results from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on the efficacy and safety of these agents are conflicting.

Objectives

To quantify the efficacy and safety of pharmacological treatment on neuropsychiatric symptoms in AD patients.

Methods

Systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs comparing pharmacological agents with placebo on Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and safety outcomes in AD patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Results

Cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) and atypical antipsychotics improved NPI total scores (ChEIs: standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.12; 95% CI −0.23 to −0.02; atypical antipsychotics: SMD −0.21; 95% CI −0.29 to −0.12), but antidepressants (95% CI −0.35 to 0.37) and memantine (95% CI −0.27 to 0.03) did not. However, ChEIs and atypical antipsychotics increased risk of dropouts due to adverse events (ChEIs: risk ratio (RR) 1.64; 95% CI 1.12 to 2.42; atypical antipsychotics: RR 2.24; 95% CI 1.53 to 3.26) and on incidence of adverse events (ChEIs: RR 1.08; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.17; atypical antipsychotics: RR 1.17; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.31). For typical antipsychotics, no study was included.

Conclusions

ChEIs and atypical antipsychotics could improve neuropsychiatric symptoms in AD patients, but with bad safety outcomes.

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