A double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over trial of adjunctive donepezil for cognitive impairment in schizophrenia

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2004 Jun;7(2):117-23. doi: 10.1017/S1461145703004024. Epub 2004 Jan 23.


Although there have been several case reports suggesting the beneficial effect of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in the cognitive deficits seen in schizophrenia, controlled studies have revealed contradictory results. The aim of this study was to investigate if donepezil could improve cognitive functions in schizophrenia. Twelve schizophrenic patients, who were diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria and who had been on a stable dose of a high-potency typical antipsychotic for a minimum period of 3 months, participated in this 12-wk double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study of donepezil adjunctive treatment. Patients were randomly assigned under double-blind conditions to receive 5 mg/d donepezil or placebo for 6 wk, and then were crossed over to the alternate condition for 6 additional weeks. At baseline, 6 and 12 wk, patients were evaluated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), Calgary Depression Scale, the Wechsler Memory Scale Revised (WMS-R), a test for Verbal Fluency, Trail Making Test, Parts A and B, and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). Treatment effect was not significant in any of the cognitive measures. There were also no significant changes in the PANSS and depression scores. Nicotinic receptor desensitization may cause non-responsiveness to acetylcholine as previously suggested, but the most likely explanation appears to be that defects in other neurotransmitter systems account for the cognitive deficits seen in schizophrenic patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Donepezil
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indans / adverse effects
  • Indans / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Nootropic Agents / adverse effects
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Piperidines / adverse effects
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology


  • Indans
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Piperidines
  • Donepezil