Pharmacological management of dementia with Lewy bodies with a focus on zonisamide for treating parkinsonism

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2021 Feb;22(3):325-337. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2020.1828350. Epub 2020 Oct 6.


Introduction: Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) has no approved symptomatic or disease-modifying treatments in the US and Europe, despite being the second most common cause of neurodegenerative dementia.

Areas covered: Herein, the authors briefly review the DLB drug development pipeline, providing a summary of the current pharmacological intervention studies. They then focus on the anticonvulsant zonisamide, a benzisoxazole derivative with a sulfonamide group and look at its value for treating parkinsonism in DLB.

Expert opinion: Several new compounds are being tested in DLB, the most innovative being those aimed at decreasing brain accumulation of α-synuclein. Unfortunately, new drug testing is challenging in terms of consistent diagnostic criteria and lack of reliable biomarkers. Few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are well-designed, with enough power to detect significant drug effects. Levodopa monotherapy can treat the parkinsonism in DLB, but it can cause agitation or visual hallucination worsening. Two Phase II/III RCTs of DLB patients recently reported a statistically significant improvement in motor function in those receiving zonisamide as an adjunctive treatment to levodopa. New biomarker strategies and validated outcome measures for DLB or prodromal DLB may enhance clinical trial design for the development of specific disease-modifying treatments.

Keywords: Lewy body dementia; Zonisamide; dementia with Lewy bodies; p38 inhibitors; parkinson’s disease dementia; phosphodiesterase inhibitors; α-synuclein.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Levodopa
  • Lewy Body Disease* / drug therapy
  • Zonisamide


  • Zonisamide
  • Levodopa