Low-Dose Whole Brain Radiation Therapy for Alzheimer's Dementia: Results From a Pilot Trial in Humans

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2023 Sep 1;117(1):87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2023.03.044. Epub 2023 Mar 18.


Purpose: We report neurocognitive, imaging, ophthalmologic, and safety outcomes following low-dose whole brain radiation therapy (LD-WBRT) for patients with early Alzheimer dementia (eAD) treated in a pilot trial.

Methods and materials: Trial-enrolled patients were at least 55 years of age, had eAD meeting NINCDS-ADRDA (National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke-Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association) Alzheimer's Criteria with confirmatory fluorodeoxyglucose and florbetapir positron emission tomography findings; had the capacity to complete neurocognitive function, psychological function, and quality-of-life assessments; had a Rosen modified Hachinski score ≤4; and had estimated survival >12 months.

Results: Five patients were treated with LD-WBRT (2 Gy × 5 over 1 week; 3 female; mean age, 73.2 years [range, 69-77]). Four of 5 patients had improved (n = 3) or stable (n = 1) Mini-Mental State Examination (second edition) T-scores at 1 year. The posttreatment scores of all 3 patients who improved increased to the average range. There were additional findings of stability of naming and other cognitive skills as well as stability to possible improvement in imaging findings. No safety issues were encountered. The only side effect was temporary epilation with satisfactory hair regrowth.

Conclusions: Our results from 5 patients with eAD treated with LD-WBRT (10 Gy in 5 fractions) demonstrate a positive safety profile and provide preliminary, hypothesis-generating data to suggest that this treatment stabilizes or improves cognition. These findings will require further evaluation in larger, definitive, randomized trials.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02769000.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / radiotherapy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stroke*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02769000