Anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of Alzheimer's disease: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis

J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;44(2):385-96. doi: 10.3233/JAD-141506.


Background: In the past 20 years, substantial evidence from laboratory and epidemiologic studies have suggested that anti-inflammatory medications could defer or prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, several studies do not corroborate these findings.

Objective: To evaluate the association of anti-inflammatory drug use on the incidence of AD.

Methods: Pubmed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were searched up to March 2014. Studies evaluating the association between use of anti-inflammatory drugs and AD risk were included. Relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were meta-analyzed using random effects models and were grouped by anti-inflammatory type and duration of drug use.

Results: In observational studies, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) was significantly associated with a reduced risk of AD (RR, 0.72; 95%CI, 0.62-0.84) compared to no use of NSAIDs, especially in long term users (RR, 0.36; 95%CI, 0.17-0.74); the risks of AD were also lower in both aspirin (RR, 0.77; 95%CI, 0.63-0.95) and non-aspirin NSAID users (RR, 0.65; 95%CI, 0.47-0.88) compared with nonusers; whereas the use of corticosteroids showed no significant association (RR, 0.62; 95%CI, 0.26-1.46). In the single randomized controlled trial (RCT), NSAID use showed no significant effect on AD risk among dementia-free individuals (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: Observational studies support the use of NSAIDs for prevention of AD, but RCT do not. Well-designed studies and innovative approaches are required to illuminate the exact relationship between NSAID use and AD risk. The appropriate dosage and duration of use to benefit and the safety are also needed to determine.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; NSAIDs; anti-inflammatory drug; aspirin; meta-analysis; prevention; systematic review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Nootropic Agents