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.