Pharmacological strategies for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease

P. Murali Doraiswamy, Glen Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


This review examines key pharmacological strategies that have been clinically studied for the primary or secondary prevention of Alzheimer's disease. Much information (neuropsychological, genetic and imaging) is already available to characterise an individual's risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. However, regulatory pathways for obtaining a prevention indication are less well charted, and such trials tend to involve 3- to 7-year studies of 1000 - 5000 individuals, depending on baseline status. Treatments developed for prevention will also need to have superior safety. For these reasons, > 100 proprietary pharmacological products are currently being developed for an Alzheimer's disease treatment, but only a few are being studied for prevention. Randomised trial data are available for antihypertensive agents (calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), pravastatin, simvastatin, conjugated oestrogen, raloxifene, rofecoxib, CX516 (AMPA agonist) and cholinesterase inhibitors regarding efficacy for Alzheimer's disease prevention. At least four large prevention trials of conjugated oestrogen, selenium and vitamin E, Ginkgo biloba and statins are currently underway. Strategies using other agents have not yet been evaluated in Alzheimer's disease prevention clinical trials. These include anti-amyloid antibodies, active immunisation, selective secretase inhibitors and modulators, microtubule stabilisers (e.g., paclitaxel), R-flurbiprofen, xaliproden, ONO-2506, FK962 (somatostatin releaser), SGS 742 (GABAB antagonist), TCH 346 (apoptosis inhibitor), Alzhemed™, phophodiesterase inhibitors, rosiglitazone, leuprolide, interferons, metal-protein attenuating compounds (e.g., PBT2), CX717, rasagaline, huperzine A, antioxidants and memantine. Studies combining lifestyle modification and drug therapy have not been conducted. Full validation of surrogate markers for disease progression (such as amyloid imaging) should further facilitate drug development. Reducing the complexity of prevention trials and gaining regulatory consensus of design is a high priority for the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid
  • Insulin
  • Statins
  • Tau

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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