Background: Growing evidence suggests that elevated cholesterol levels in mid-life are associated with increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), and that statins might have a protective effect against AD and dementia. The Lipitor's Effect in Alzheimer's Dementia (LEADe) study tests the hypothesis that a statin (atorvastatin 80 mg daily) will provide a benefit on the course of mild to moderate AD in patients receiving background therapy of a cholinesterase inhibitor (donepezil 10 mg daily).
Methods: This is an international, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, parallel-group study with a double-blind randomized withdrawal phase of patients with mild to moderate AD (Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] score, 13 to 25). Inclusion criteria included age 50 to 90 years, receiving donepezil 10 mg for at least 3 months before randomization, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (LDL-C) 2.5 to 3.5 mmol/L (95 to 195 mg/dL). Co-primary end points are changes in AD Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) and AD Cooperative Study-Clinical Global Impression of Change (ADCS-CGIC) scale scores. A confirmatory end point is rate of change in whole brain and hippocampal volumes in patients who enrolled in the magnetic resonance imaging substudy.
Results: Enrollment of 641 subjects is complete. The baseline mean data are age 74 +/- 8 years, 53% women, MMSE 22 +/- 3, ADAS-cog 23 +/- 10, AD Functional Assessment and Change Scale (ADFACS) 13 +/- 9, Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) 10 +/- 11, and Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB) 6 +/- 3. Mean prior donepezil treatment was 409 +/- 407 days. Mean baseline lipid levels are total cholesterol 5.8 +/- 0.8 mmol/L (224 +/- 33 mg/dL), LDL-C 3.7 +/- 0.7 mmol/L (143 +/- 26 mg/dL), triglycerides 1.5 +/- 0.7 mmol/L (132 +/- 64 mg/dL), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol 1.6 +/- 0.5 mmol/L (64 +/- 18 mg/dL).
Conclusions: LEADe will report in 2008 and is expected to provide a more definitive evaluation of the potential for statins in the treatment of people with AD.