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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Can Vitamin E Slow Alzheimer’s Disease Progression?

Does taking vitamin E slow disease progression for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD)? It just might, according to a new study published in the Jan. 1 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Led by Maurice W. Dysken, MD, of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, and colleagues, the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) reduced the rate of functional decline in patients with mild to moderate AD.


     The trial, conducted between August 2007 and September 2012 at 14 Veterans Affairs medical centers, included 613 patients with mild to moderate AD. The participants received either 2000 IU/d of vitamin E (n = 152), 20 mg/d of memantine (n = 155), the combination (n = 154), or placebo (n = 152). The investigators used the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study/Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) Inventory score (range, 0-78) as a primary outcome measure. Secondary outcomes included cognitive, neuropsychiatric, functional, and caregiver measures.


     Dr. Dysken and colleagues analyzed data from 561 participants, (alpha tocopherol = 140, memantine = 142, combination = 139, placebo = 140), with 52 excluded due to lack of follow-up data. Over an average of 2.27 years, ADCS-ADL Inventory scores declined by 3.15 units (95% CI, 0.92 to 5.39; adjusted P = .03) less in the vitamin E group compared with the placebo group. In the memantine group, these scores declined 1.98 units less (95% CI, −0.24 to 4.20; adjusted P = .40) than the placebo group’s decline. In the vitamin E group, the delay in clinical progression of AD was translated to 19% per year compared with placebo or a delay of approximately 6.2 months over the follow-up period.


     In conclusion, wrote Dr. Dysken and co-authors, those patients with mild to moderate AD who took vitamin E experienced slower functional decline than the placebo group. No significant differences were found in the groups receiving memantine alone or in combination with vitamin E.

     Stay tuned for a full story on these findings and their implications for AD patients and researchers in an upcoming issue of Neurology Today. For now, browse our archives on Alzheimer’s disease research: