Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil in a placebo-controlled trial in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Methods: A total of 270 patients with MCI were enrolled in a 24-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Patients were randomized to receive donepezil (n = 133; 5 mg/day for 42 days, followed by forced dose escalation to 10 mg/day) or placebo (n = 137). Primary efficacy measures were the New York University (NYU) Paragraph Delayed Recall test and the Alzheimer disease (AD) Cooperative Study Clinician's Global Impression of Change for MCI (ADCS CGIC-MCI). Secondary efficacy measures included the modified AD Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog), the Patient Global Assessment (PGA), and additional neuropsychologic measures. Efficacy analyses were performed on intent-to-treat (ITT) and fully evaluable (FE) populations.
Results: Primary efficacy measures of the NYU Paragraph Recall test and the ADCS CGIC-MCI did not show significant treatment effects in the ITT population. Some secondary measures showed effects favoring donepezil. More donepezil-treated patients showed improvements in ADAS-cog total scores, in tests of attention and psychomotor speed, and in PGA scores. More donepezil-treated than placebo-treated patients experienced adverse events, most of which were mild to moderate and transient.
Conclusion: Although significant treatment effects were not seen in the primary efficacy measures, outcomes on secondary measures suggest promising directions for further evaluation of donepezil treatment in patients with MCI.