Current approaches in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease

Biomed Pharmacother. Apr-May 2008;62(4):199-207. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Mar 17.


The management of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been a long-standing challenge and area of interest. Advances in knowledge of the pathogenesis of disease and an increase in disease burden have prompted investigation into innovative therapeutics over the last two decades. This article reviews the various treatments of AD including those targeted towards cholinergic deficiency, oxidative stress, the amyloid cascade, inflammation, and excitotoxicity. Second generation cholinesterase inhibitors remain the preferred therapy for early and intermediate AD while the glutamate antagonist, memantine, is also approved for advanced stages of disease. Antioxidants may delay disease progression, while data on other experimental therapies remain equivocal at best. Gene therapy directed at neurotropins is currently under investigation with some intriguing preliminary results; however, the number of patients examined is too few to be conclusive. Drugs directly targeting amyloid-beta, particularly the amyloid-beta vaccine, continue to be investigated and their forthcoming results are eagerly anticipated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Diet
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Nerve Growth Factor / therapeutic use
  • Vaccination


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antioxidants
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Nerve Growth Factor