NSAIDs and Alzheimer disease: epidemiological, animal model and clinical studies

Neurobiol Aging. 2007 May;28(5):639-47. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2006.03.013. Epub 2006 May 11.


This review reports correlations between four independent fields related to inflammation and Alzheimer disease: fundamental pathology, epidemiology, transgenic animal studies and clinical trials. Activated microglia, along with a spectrum of inflammatory mediators, have been identified in association with the lesions of Alzheimer disease (AD), suggesting that antiinflammatory agents such as NSAIDs should protect against the disease. In multiple epidemiological investigations testing this hypothesis, a significant risk reduction, or a trend towards such a reduction has been observed in long term as opposed to short term users of traditional NSAIDs. In studies where such NSAIDs have been administered to AD transgenic mice, a dose dependent reduction in pathology was observed. The selective C0X-2 inhibitors were ineffective. Results of clinical investigations have so far been disappointing but have nevertheless correlated with fundamental pathological findings and with transgenic mouse results. Four clinical trials using selective COX-2 inhibitors failed which is in keeping with the animal results and is consistent with pathological findings demonstrating that COX-1 and not COX-2 is the appropriate target in activated human microglia. A low dose trial of the traditional NSAID naproxen also failed, but pilot trials using therapeutically established doses of indomethacin and diclofenac/misoprostol showed promise. Further clinical investigations with relatively high doses of traditional NSAIDs might be warranted, although significant side effects should be anticipated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal