Donepezil (Aricept), a long-acting cholinesterase inhibitor, is widely used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease to improve cognition and memory. Many drugs within the class of cognition-enhancing agents, both currently approved medications and those under development, have clinical indications narrowly relegated to Alzheimer's disease. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the efficacy attributed to donepezil in its ability to improve delayed matching accuracy by monkeys was independent of age. Male and female rhesus monkeys (n = 17) ranging from 9to 29 yr of age were administered donepezil (10, 25, 50, and 100 microg/kg, im) during 4 discrete test days. Donepezil treatment improved average task accuracy, but intersubject variability prohibited statistical significance. When animals were considered individually, the most effective dose of donepezil was associated with a highly significant increase in group task performance that was consistent with enhanced recall during testing. The variability associated with the dose-response analysis was attributable primarily to subject age, such that older monkeys required higher doses of donepezil. Yet at doses that were effective in all subjects, there was no relationship between age and the improvement in task accuracy. Likewise, there was no association between baseline task proficiency and improvement in task accuracy.
Copyright 2004 Humana Press Inc.