Posted on Jan 16, 2014, 6 a.m.
One of the largest and longest-treatment trials involving Alzheimer's patients supports the utility and efficacy of alpha-tocopherol to slow functional decline.
A major burden in Alzheimer's Disease is the potential loss of the ability to complete the activities of daily living, and thus to live independently. Maurice Dysken, from the Minneapolis VA Health Care System (Minnesota, USA), and colleagues enrolled 613 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer' Disease and randomly assigned each to one of four groups: the first group received 2,000 IU per day of vitamin E (as alpha-tocopherol); the second group received 20 mg per day of an Alzheimer's medication (memantine); the third group received a combination of vitamin E and memantine; and the fourth group served as placebo. Subjects were followed for an average of 2.5 years. At the end of the study period, the team observed a clinically significant delay in functional decline of 6.2 months in the vitamin E group, compared with placebo. No benefits were observed in the drug group or in the combination vitamin-drug group. Writing that: "Among patients with mild to moderate [Alzheimer's Disease], 2000 IU/d of alpha tocopherol … resulted in slower functional decline,” the study authors submit that their data “suggest[s] benefit of alpha tocopherol in mild to moderate [Alzheimer's Disease] by slowing functional decline and decreasing caregiver burden.”
Dysken MW, Sano M, Asthana S, Vertrees JE, Pallaki M, Llorente M, et al. “Effect of vitamin E and memantine on functional decline in Alzheimer disease: the TEAM-AD VA cooperative randomized trial.” JAMA. 2014 Jan 1;311(1):33-44