Tacrine efficacy in Lewy body dementia

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 1998 Aug;13(8):516-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1166(199808)13:8<516::aid-gps810>3.0.co;2-o.


Background: Response to tacrine varies among patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Lewy body dementia (LBD) could be a high responder subtype of AD. The aim of the study was to compare the effects of tacrine in LBD and AD.

Methods: Seventy-five consecutive outpatients with mild or moderate AD were screened. Tacrine was given at a dose of 40 mg/day during 6 weeks. During the next 6 weeks, the patients were treated with 80 mg/day and afterwards with 120 mg/day. Patients were assessed at baseline and treated with a dose of 120 mg/day tacrine for 2 weeks.

Results: Analysis was performed on 39 patients (AD, N = 20; LBD, N = 19). Eight patients were lost to follow-up, eight patients manifested with side-effects, six suffered from an intercurrent somatic disease during the study and 14 patients had poor compliance or were treated with incompatible drugs. Twenty-two patients (11 AD/11 LBD) increased their cognitive performances with tacrine. Among the 22 patients, the improvement differed between the AD and the LBD groups. In AD, conceptualization improved; in LBD, the improvements occurred in verbal initiation and digit span.

Conclusion: This study emphasizes the importance of using appropriate tests to determine the positive effects of pharmacological treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies
  • Male
  • Tacrine / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Tacrine