Available symptomatic therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been based on known neurotransmitter dysfunctions associated with the illness. The second-generation cholinesterase inhibitors and the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor antagonist memantine have been widely prescribed and studied. Meta-analyses of these therapies were reviewed, focusing on effectiveness and tolerability. Although many of the meta-analyses demonstrate statistically significant improvements, some question if these benefits are sufficient to justify their current widespread and protracted use. This has spurred the development of new disease-modifying therapies that aim to have a greater impact on this debilitating illness.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; beta amyloid; cholinesterase inhibitors; donepezil; galantamine; memantine; meta-analysis; rivastigmine; tacrine; tau protein.