The January 1, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports the outcome of a double-blinded trial involving mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease patients which found a reduction in the rate of functional decline in comparison with a placebo among those who received a daily vitamin E supplement.
The trial included 613 predominantly male patients at fourteen Veterans Affairs medical centers. Participants were divided to receive 2,000 international units (IU) vitamin E, 20 milligrams of the drug memantine, both treatments, or a placebo daily over a follow-up period that averaged 2.3 years. The subjects were assessed on their ability to perform activities of daily living, cognitive function, memory and language, psychological and behavioral problems, and time necessitating caregiver assistance at the beginning of the study and every six months thereafter.
While memantine as well as memantine plus vitamin E were not associated with a benefit, functional decline was slowed in patients who received vitamin E, translating into a delay in clinical progression of approximately 6.2 months over follow-up. Those who received the vitamin also needed less caregiver assistance in comparison with the placebo group.
“The current study is one of the largest and longest treatment trials in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease,” Maurice W. Dysken, MD, and colleagues announce. “It is the first large scale clinical trial to assess not only the effectiveness of alpha tocopherol in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, but also the combination of alpha tocopherol and memantine.”