Safety and Efficacy of Lemborexant in Patients With Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder and Alzheimer's Disease Dementia: Results From a Phase 2 Randomized Clinical Trial

J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2021;8(1):7-18. doi: 10.14283/jpad.2020.69.


Background: Irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder (ISWRD) is a common sleep disorder in individuals with Alzheimer's disease dementia (AD-D).

Objectives: This exploratory phase 2 proof-of-concept and dose-finding clinical trial evaluated the effects of lemborexant compared with placebo on circadian rhythm parameters, nighttime sleep, daytime wakefulness and other clinical measures of ISWRD in individuals with ISWRD and mild to moderate AD-D.

Design: Multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study.

Setting: Sites in the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Participants: Men and women 60 to 90 years of age with documentation of diagnosis with AD-D and Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score 10 to 26.

Intervention: Subjects were randomized to placebo or one of four lemborexant treatment arms (2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg or 15 mg) once nightly at bedtime for 4 weeks.

Measurements: An actigraph was used to collect subject rest-activity data, which were used to calculate sleep-related, wake-related and circadian rhythm-related parameters. These parameters included least active 5 hours (L5), relative amplitude of the rest-activity rhythm (RA) and mean duration of sleep bouts (MDSB) during the daytime. The MMSE and the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog) were used to assess for changes in cognitive function.

Results: Sixty-two subjects were randomized and provided data for circadian, daytime and nighttime parameters (placebo, n = 12; lemborexant 2.5 mg [LEM2.5], n = 12; lemborexant 5 mg [LEM5], n = 13, lemborexant 10 mg [LEM10], n = 13 and lemborexant 15 mg [LEM15], n = 12). Mean L5 showed a decrease from baseline to week 4 for LEM2.5, LEM5 and LEM15 that was significantly greater than with placebo (all p < 0.05), suggesting a reduction in restlessness. For RA, LS mean change from baseline to week 4 versus placebo indicated greater distinction between night and day with all dose levels of lemborexant, with significant improvements seen with LEM5 and LEM15 compared with placebo (both p < 0.05). The median percentage change from baseline to week 4 in MDSB during the daytime indicated a numerical decrease in duration for LEM5, LEM10 and LEM15, which was significantly different from placebo for LEM5 and LEM15 (p < 0.01 and p = 0.002, respectively). There were no serious treatment-emergent adverse events or worsening of cognitive function, as assessed by the MMSE and ADAS-Cog. Lemborexant was well tolerated. No subjects discontinued treatment.

Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence of the potential utility of lemborexant as a treatment to address both nighttime and daytime symptoms in patients with ISWRD and AD-D.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder; lemborexant.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / methods
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orexin Receptor Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Orexin Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Pyrimidines / administration & dosage*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology


  • Orexin Receptor Antagonists
  • Pyridines
  • Pyrimidines
  • lemborexant