A randomized controlled trial of prednisone in Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study

Neurology. 2000 Feb 8;54(3):588-93. doi: 10.1212/wnl.54.3.588.


Background: Laboratory and epidemiologic studies suggest that anti-inflammatory/immunosuppressive therapy may be useful in the treatment of AD. In preliminary studies, a regimen of low to moderate dose prednisone was found to suppress peripheral inflammatory markers without adverse effects in subjects with AD.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled multicenter trial to determine whether prednisone treatment slowed the rate of cognitive decline in AD. The active treatment regimen consisted of an initial dose of 20 mg of prednisone daily for 4 weeks tapered to a maintenance dose of 10 mg daily for 1 year, followed by gradual withdrawal during an additional 16 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the 1-year change in the cognitive subscale of the AD Assessment Scale.

Results: A total of 138 subjects were randomized to the drug and placebo groups. There was no difference in cognitive decline between the prednisone and placebo treatment groups in the primary intent-to-treat analysis, or in a secondary analysis considering completers only. Subjects treated with prednisone showed behavioral decline compared with those in the placebo group.

Conclusion: A low-dose regimen of prednisone is not useful in the treatment of AD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*


  • Prednisone