Despite advances in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD), there is currently no prospect of a cure, and evidence shows that multifactorial interventions can benefit patients. A promising therapeutic alternative is the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) simultaneously with cognitive intervention. The combination of these non-pharmacological techniques is apparently a safe and accessible approach. This study protocol aims to compare the efficacy of tDCS and cognitive intervention in a double-blind, randomized and factorial clinical trial. One hundred participants diagnosed with mild-stage AD will be randomized to receive both tDCS and cognitive intervention, tDCS, cognitive intervention, or placebo. The treatment will last 8 weeks, with a 12-month follow-up. The primary outcome will be the improvement of global cognitive functions, evaluated by the AD Assessment Scale, cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog). The secondary outcomes will include measures of functional, affective, and behavioral components, as well as a neurophysiological marker (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF). This study will enable us to assess, both in the short and long term, whether tDCS is more effective than the placebo and to examine the effects of combined therapy (tDCS and cognitive intervention) and isolated treatments (tDCS vs. cognitive intervention) on patients with AD. Clinical Trial Registration: www.ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier NCT02772185-May 5, 2016.
Keywords: clinical trial; dementia; neuromodulation; neuropsychology; non-pharmacological approaches; transcranial direct current stimulation.