Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Aug;41(8):354-7.

Multiple n = 1 trials in the identification of responders and non-responders to the cognitive effects of Ginkgo biloba.

Canter PH, Ernst E.

Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter, Devon, UK. peter.canter@pms.ac.uk

            OBJECTIVE: A pilot study to assess multiple crossover n = 1 trials with verum/placebo discrimination as the outcome measure as a means of identifying responders and non-responders to the acute nootropic effect of Ginkgo biloba (G. biloba) among healthy volunteers. METHOD: Multiple double-blind, placebo-controlled n = 1 trials with 8 treatments in randomized order and separated by minimum washout periods of 7 days. Treatments were acute 120 mg doses of G. biloba extract (GK501) or undistinguishable placebo. The frequency distribution of correct scores for verum-placebo discrimination was compared with the binomial distribution to identify putative responders, who were then tested for consistency of performance over a further 8 treatments. RESULTS: The frequency distribution of scores (n = 11) was bimodal and a discontinuity defined 3 putative responders and 2 putative negative responders for re-test. Two of the putative responders again performed at above chance level and the probability of achieving their scores or better by chance was 0.013 and 0.052. CONCLUSIONS: n = 1 trials with verum/placebo discrimination as outcome are a promising method for exploring response heterogeneity to treatments with a subjective effect. Preliminary evidence suggests that there are responders and non-responders to an acute G. biloba treatment among healthy subjects. (IE, Individual differences in responsivity!!!)



Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS® 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders: Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 11 September 2002

Siegfried Lehrl

            Background: The aim of the present trial was to investigate the efficacy and safety of kava special extract WS® 1490 in patients with sleep disturbances associated with anxiety, tension and restlessness states of non-psychotic origin. Methods: In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind clinical study, 61 patients received daily doses of 200 mg WS® 1490 or placebo over a period of 4 weeks. Efficacy was measured by the sleep questionnaire SF-B, the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA), the Bf-S self-rating scale of well-being and the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale. Results: The confirmatory analysis of the two primary efficacy variables, the differences of sleep questionnaire SF-B sub-scores `Quality of sleep' and `Recuperative effect after sleep' after 4 weeks of double-blind treatment compared to baseline, demonstrated statistically significant group differences in favor of kava extract WS® 1490 (P=0.007 and P=0.018, respectively). Superior effects of kava extract were also present in the HAMA psychic anxiety sub-score (P=0.002). More pronounced effects with respect to the self-rating of well-being and the global clinical evaluation also indicated superior therapeutic efficacy of kava extract. Safety and tolerability were good, with no drug-related adverse events or changes in clinical or laboratory parameters. Conclusions: We conclude that sleep disturbances associated with non-psychotic anxiety disorders can be effectively and safely treated with kava extract WS® 1490.



Neuropsychopharmacology (2003) 28, 1572-1578,

Altered Glucocorticoid Rhythm Attenuates the Ability of a Chronic SSRI to Elevate Forebrain 5-HT: Implications for the Treatment of Depression

S E Gartside, M M Leitch and A H Young

Psychobiology Research Group, School of Neurology, Neurobiology and Psychiatry, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, The Medical School, Newcastle, UK  E-mail: sasha.gartside@ncl.ac.uk

            Both glucocorticoids and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) alter aspects of 5-HT function including somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptor sensitivity. Many depressed patients prescribed SSRIs have pre-existing flattened diurnal gluococorticoid rhythm. In these patients, interactions between flattened glucocorticoid rhythm and chronic SSRIs, which impact on the SSRI's ability to elevate forebrain 5-HT, may alter clinical efficacy. To address this issue rats underwent implantation of slow-release corticosterone (75 mg pellet s.c.) (to flatten the glucocorticoid rhythm) or sham surgery, and injection of fluoxetine (10 mg/kg/day i.p., 12 days) or vehicle. Using microdialysis in the frontal cortex we found that (21 h after the last injection) extracellular 5-HT was elevated in fluoxetine- or corticosterone-treated animals, but not in those treated with corticosterone plus fluoxetine. In fluoxetine-treated animals, blockade of terminal reuptake by local perfusion of fluoxetine increased 5-HT to the same level as it did in controls, suggesting normal terminal 5-HT release after chronic fluoxetine. However, 5-HT levels following local reuptake blockade in both the corticosterone and corticosterone plus fluoxetine groups were lower than controls, suggesting a corticosterone-induced decrease in terminal release. Finally in fluoxetine, corticosterone, and corticosterone plus fluoxetine groups, there was marked 5-HT1A receptor desensitization, evidenced by attenuation of the decrease in 5-HT release following systemic fluoxetine injection. The data indicate that, despite desensitization of 5-HT1A autoreceptors, concurrent flattened glucocorticoid rhythm compromises the ability of SSRIs to elevate forebrain 5-HT. These findings suggest a potential mechanism for the reduced antidepressant efficacy of SSRIs in those patients with pre-existing glucocorticoid abnormalities.  (IE, Individual Differences in Biochemisty / Responsivity)




Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication, 23 July 2003;

Modulation of Mood and Cognitive Performance Following Acute Administration of Single Doses of Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm) with Human CNS Nicotinic and Muscarinic Receptor-Binding Properties

D O Kennedy, G Wake, S Savelev, N T J Tildesley, E K Perry, K A Wesnes and A B Scholey

E-mail: david.kennedy@unn.ac.uk

            Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) is a herbal medicine that has traditionally been attributed with memory-enhancing properties, but which is currently more widely used as a mild sedative and sleep aid. In a previous study it was demonstrated that a commercial Melissa extract led to dose-specific increases in calmness, and dose-dependent decrements in timed memory task performance. However, the extract utilized in that study did not exhibit in vitro cholinergic receptor-binding properties. The current study involved an initial screening of samples of M. officinalis for human acetylcholinesterase inhibition and cholinergic receptor-binding properties. The cognitive and mood effects of single doses of the most cholinergically active dried leaf were then assessed in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced crossover study. Following the in vitro analysis, 20 healthy, young participants received single doses of 600, 1000, and 1600 mg of encapsulated dried leaf, or a matching placebo, at 7-day intervals. Cognitive performance and mood were assessed predose and at 1, 3, and 6 h postdose using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment battery and Bond-Lader visual analog scales, respectively. In vitro analysis of the chosen extract established IC50 concentrations of 0.18 and 3.47 mg ml-1, respectively, for the displacement of [3H]-(N)-nicotine and [3H]-(N)-scopolamine from nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in the human cerebral cortex tissue. However, no cholinesterase inhibitory properties were detected. The most notable cognitive and mood effects were improved memory performance and increased 'calmness' at all postdose time points for the highest (1600 mg) dose. However, while the profile of results was overwhelmingly favorable for the highest dose, decrements in the speed of timed memory task performance and on a rapid visual information-processing task increased with decreasing dose. These results suggest that doses of Melissa officinalis at or above the maximum employed here can improve cognitive performance and mood and may therefore be a valuable adjunct in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The results also suggest that different preparations derived from the same plant species may exhibit different properties depending on the process used for the sample preparation  (I.E. Individual variability in the substance / nootrope!!)



Sleep Medicine

Volume 4, Issue 4 , July 2003, Pages 281-284

Melatonin for treatment of REM sleep behavior disorder in neurologic disorders: results in 14 patients

Bradley F. Boeve, Michael H. Silber and Tanis J. Ferman

            Objective: To describe the treatment response with melatonin for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) associated with other neurologic disorders. Background: Clonazepam has been considered the treatment of choice for RBD. However, an alternative treatment is desirable for those with RBD refractory to clonazepam, for those who experience intolerable side-effects with clonazepam, and for those in whom clonazepam precipitates or aggravates obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). To date, there is minimal published data and limited follow-up regarding the use of melatonin for patients with RBD associated with other neurologic syndromes and disorders. Design/methods: The response to melatonin treatment for RBD was reviewed on consecutive patients the investigators treated with this agent at Mayo Clinic Rochester from January 2000 to June 2001. The coexisting neurologic disorders, reasons for using melatonin, effective doses, side-effects, and duration of follow-up were also reviewed on all patients. Results: Fourteen patients were commenced on melatonin over the specified time period (13 male, median RBD onset age 56 years, range 20–77 years). The coexisting neurologic findings/disorders were dementia with Lewy bodies (n=7), mild cognitive impairment with mild parkinsonism (n=2), multiple system atrophy (n=2), narcolepsy (n=2), and Parkinson's disease (n=1). The reasons for using melatonin in these cases were incomplete response of RBD to clonazepam in six patients, existing cognitive impairment in five, intolerable side-effects with clonazepam in two, and presence of severe obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy in one. With seven patients continuing to use clonazepam at 0.5–1.0 mg/night, RBD was controlled in six patients, significantly improved in four, and initially improved but subsequently returned in two; no improvement occurred in one patient and increased RBD frequency/severity occurred in one patient. The effective melatonin doses were 3 mg in two cases, 6 mg in seven cases, 9 mg in one case, and 12 mg in two cases. Five patients reported side-effects, which included morning headaches (2), morning sleepiness (2), and delusions/hallucinations (1); these symptoms resolved with decreased dosage. The mean duration of follow-up was 14 months (range 9–25 months), with eight patients experiencing continued benefit with melatonin beyond 12 months of therapy. Conclusions: In this series, persistent benefit with melatonin beyond 1 year of therapy occurred in most but not all patients. Melatonin can be considered as a possible sole or add-on therapy in select patients with RBD. Prospective, long-term, controlled trials with melatonin are warranted in a larger number of patients with RBD associated with a variety of neurologic symptoms and disorders.



Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;18(8):740-7.

Assessment of health economics in Alzheimer's disease (AHEAD): treatment with galantamine in the UK.

Ward A, Caro JJ, Getsios D, Ishak K, O'Brien J, Bullock R; AHEAD Study Group.

    OBJECTIVE: To assess the long-term health and economic impact of treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) with galantamine (16 mg or 24 mg per day) compared to no cholinesterase therapy in the UK. METHODS: The long-term costs and outcomes were assessed using a model developed from longitudinal data on a cohort of AD patients. The model predicts the time until patients require full-time care, defined as the consistent requirement for a significant amount of care and supervision each day. Efficacy data were obtained from three clinical trials comparing galantamine with placebo, forecasts were made for ten years. Costs were determined in 2001 British pounds and discounted at 6% per annum, while outcomes such as time to full-time care were discounted at 1.5%. RESULTS: Without pharmacological treatment, patients are expected to incur costs of 28,134 British pounds over ten years, 70% of costs accrue from providing full-time care. Galantamine (16 mg per day) is predicted to reduce the duration of the full-time care state by 12%; approximately five patients need to be treated to avoid one year of full-time care. The ten-year incremental costs per month of full-time care avoided average pound 192 British pounds per patient and 8,693 British pounds per QALY. Savings (1380 British pounds) are predicted for patients who continue treatment beyond six months and whose cognitive function is maintained or improved. Comparable results were estimated for the 24 mg dose. CONCLUSION: In addition to the clinical benefits associated with galantamine treatment, the savings predicted from delaying when full-time care is needed may offset the treatment costs.



Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):529-36.

Clitoria ternatea and the CNS.

Jain NN, Ohal CC, Shroff SK, Bhutada RH, Somani RS, Kasture VS, Kasture SB.

Natural Products Laboratory, MVP Samaj's College of Pharmacy, Nashik 422 002, India.

            The present investigation was aimed at determining the spectrum of activity of the methanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea (CT) on the CNS. The CT was studied for its effect on cognitive behavior, anxiety, depression, stress and convulsions induced by pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) and maximum electroshock (MES). To explain these effects, the effect of CT was also studied on behavior mediated by dopamine (DA), noradrenaline, serotonin and acetylcholine. The extract decreased time required to occupy the central platform (transfer latency, TL) in the elevated plus maze (EPM) and increased discrimination index in the object recognition test, indicating nootropic activity. The extract was more active in the object recognition test than in the EPM. The extract increased occupancy in the open arm of EPM by 160% and in the lit box of the light/dark exploration test by 157%, indicating its anxiolytic activity. It decreased the duration of immobility in tail suspension test (suggesting its antidepressant activity), reduced stress-induced ulcers and reduced the convulsing action of PTZ and MES. The extract exhibited tendency to reduce the intensity of behavior mediated via serotonin and acetylcholine. The effect on DA- and noradrenaline-mediated behavior was not significant. In conclusion, the extract was found to possess nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. Further studies are necessary to isolate the active principle responsible for the activities and to understand its mode of action.



Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(1):CD003119.

Vinpocetine for cognitive impairment and dementia.

Szatmari SZ, Whitehouse PJ; szatmari@netsoft.ro

    BACKGROUND: Vinpocetine is a synthetic ethyl ester of apovincamine, a vinca alkaloid obtained from the leaves of the Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) and discovered in the late 1960s. Although used in human treatment for over twenty years, it has not been approved by any regulatory body for the treatment of cognitive impairment. Basic sciences studies have been used to claim a variety of potentially important effects in the brain. However, despite these many proposed mechanisms and targets, the relevance of this basic science to clinical studies is unclear. OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy and safety of vinpocetine in the treatment of patients with cognitive impairment due to vascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, mixed (vascular and Alzheimer's disease) and other dementias. SEARCH STRATEGY: The Cochrane Dementia & Cognitive Improvement Group's Specialized Register was searched using the terms vinpocetin*, cavinton, kavinton, Rgh-4405, Tcv-3B, "ethyl apovincaminate", vinRx, periwinkle, "myrtle vincapervinc" and cezayirmeneksesi. The manufacturers of vinpocetine were asked for information on trials of vinpocetine for dementia. In addition we tried to collect articles not listed in MEDLINE or other sources on the Internet (e.g. articles in Hungarian and Romanian). SELECTION CRITERIA: All human, unconfounded, double-blind, randomized trials in which treatment with vinpocetine was administered for more than a day and compared to control in patients with vascular dementia, Alzheimer's dementia or mixed Alzheimer's and vascular dementia and other dementias. Non-randomized trials were excluded. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were independently extracted by the two reviewers (SzSz and PW) and cross-checked. Data from "washout" periods were not used for the analysis. For continuous or ordinal variables, such as cognitive test results, the main outcomes of interest were the change in score from baseline. The categorical outcome of global impression was transformed to binary data (improved or not improved) as was the occurrence of adverse effects; here the endpoint itself was of interest the Peto method of the "typical odds ratio" was used. A test for heterogeneity of treatment effects between the trials was made if appropriate. Data synthesis and analysis were performed using the Cochrane Review Manager software (RevMan version 4.1). MAIN RESULTS: All identified studies were performed before the 1990s and used various terms and criteria for cognitive decline and dementia. The three studies included in the review involved a total of 583 people with dementia treated with vinpocetine or placebo. The reports of these studies did not make possible any differentiation of effects for degenerative or vascular dementia. The results show benefit associated with treatment with vinpocetine 30mg/day and 60 mg/day compared with placebo, but the number of patients treated for 6 months or more was small. Only one study extended treatment to one year. Adverse effects were inconsistently reported and without regard for relationship to dose. The available data do not demonstrate many problems of adverse effects but intention-to-treat data were not available for any of the trials. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Although the basic science is interesting, the evidence for beneficial effect of vinpocetine on patients with dementia is inconclusive and does not support clinical use. The drug seems to have few adverse effects at the doses used in the studies. Large studies evaluating the use of vinpocetine for people suffering from well defined types of cognitive impairment are needed to explore possible efficacy of this treatment.



Effects on cognition and mood in postmenopausal women of 1-week treatment with Ginkgo biloba Hartley DE, Heinze L, Elsabagh S, File SE. Effects on cognition and mood in  postmenopausal women of 1-week treatment with Ginkgo biloba.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):711-20. David.2.hartley@kcl.ac.uk

            In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, postmenopausal women (53-65 years old) were randomly assigned to 7-day treatment with Ginkgo (120 mg/day, n=15) or matched placebo (n=16). They were given a battery of cognitive tests and measurements of mood and menopausal symptoms at baseline (before treatment began) and at the end of 7 days. The group treated with Ginkgo was significantly better than the placebo group in a matching-to-sample test of nonverbal memory, but the groups did not differ in immediate or delayed paragraph recall or in delayed recall of pictures. In a test of frontal lobe function (rule shifting) and in the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) (which measures sustained attention but also involves frontal lobe function), the group treated with Ginkgo performed significantly better than the placebo group. However, the groups did not differ in a test of planning. The treatments did not differ in their effects on the volunteers' ratings of menopausal symptoms, sleepiness, bodily symptoms or aggression. The benefits of Ginkgo on memory and frontal lobe function found in this study are modest but are unlikely to be secondary to major mood changes.



Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS® 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders: Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial, Journal of Affective Disorders, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 11 September 2002

Siegfried Lehrl

            Background: The aim of the present trial was to investigate the efficacy and safety of kava special extract WS® 1490 in patients with sleep disturbances associated with anxiety, tension and restlessness states of non-psychotic origin. Methods: In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind clinical study, 61 patients received daily doses of 200 mg WS® 1490 or placebo over a period of 4 weeks. Efficacy was measured by the sleep questionnaire SF-B, the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA), the Bf-S self-rating scale of well-being and the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale. Results: The confirmatory analysis of the two primary efficacy variables, the differences of sleep questionnaire SF-B sub-scores `Quality of sleep' and `Recuperative effect after sleep' after 4 weeks of double-blind treatment compared to baseline, demonstrated statistically significant group differences in favor of kava extract WS® 1490 (P=0.007 and P=0.018, respectively). Superior effects of kava extract were also present in the HAMA psychic anxiety sub-score (P=0.002). More pronounced effects with respect to the self-rating of well-being and the global clinical evaluation also indicated superior therapeutic efficacy of kava extract. Safety and tolerability were good, with no drug-related adverse events or changes in clinical or laboratory parameters. Conclusions: We conclude that sleep disturbances associated with non-psychotic anxiety disorders can be effectively and safely treated with kava extract WS® 1490.




Modafinil treatment in patients with seasonal affective disorder/winter depression: an open-label pilot study, J Affective Disorders, In Press, Corrected, Avail online 14Aug 2003

Leslie Lundt

            Background: Hypersomnia is a cardinal symptom of seasonal affective disorder/winter depression. This open-label pilot study assessed modafinil, a novel wake-promoting agent, as treatment for seasonal affective disorder/winter depression. Methods: Total daily modafinil dose was 100 mg (all patients week 1), and 100 mg or 200 mg split dose (weeks 2–8). Efficacy assessments (weeks 1, 2, 5, and 8) included the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Depression (HAM-D) Rating Scale, Seasonal Affective Disorder Version (SIGH-SAD), Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGI-C), Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), and Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Results: Thirteen patients (11 women; mean age, 41 years) were enrolled, 12 were evaluable for efficacy (100 mg dose, five patients; 200 mg dose, seven patients), and nine completed treatment. Modafinil significantly improved winter depression as shown by reductions from baseline in mean SIGH-SAD at week 1 (P<0.01) through week 8 (P<0.001 weeks 2–8) and MADRS total scores from week 2 through week 8 (P<0.01 for all). At week 8, mean SIGH-SAD total score was 17.1 (versus 37.2 at baseline, P<0.001), and mean MADRS total score was 13.3 (versus 26.9 at baseline, P<0.01). Modafinil significantly improved overall clinical condition at all time points (P<0.001). The response rate was 67% on the SIGH-SAD (29 item), HAM-D (21 item), and MADRS, and 100% on eight atypical SIGH-SAD items. Modafinil significantly reduced fatigue (FSS) and improved wakefulness (ESS) from weeks 2 through 8 (P<0.01). Modafinil was well tolerated. Limitations: This was an open-label, single site study. Conclusions: Modafinil may be an effective and well-tolerated treatment in patients with seasonal affective disorder/winter depression.




Is generic fluoxetine effective?, J Affective Disorders, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 31 July 2003

Benjamin P. Yu, Yun S. Chong and Gerald A. Maguire. Answer:  Seems to Be Less Effective, with more side effects.




Borderline personality disorder in patients with bipolar disorder and response to lamotrigine, J Affective Disorders, In Press, Corrected Proof, Avail online 20 November 2002

Gilbert A. Preston, Barrie K. Marchant, Fredrick W. Reimherr, Robert E. Strong and Dawson W. Hedges

            Background: Recent reports suggesting lamotrigine as an effective treatment in bipolar disorder, and perhaps borderline personality disorder, a common comorbid personality disorder in bipolar patients, led us to retrospectively examine patients from two bipolar studies to investigate this pattern of comorbidity, and to determine whether lamotrigine effected the dimensions of borderline personality. Methods: Fifteen months following entry into either study, we retrospectively assessed DSM-IV dimensions of borderline personality disorder pre- and post-treatment with lamotrigine in 35 bipolar patients. Results: Forty percent met criteria for borderline personality disorder; this subgroup had a more frequent history of substance abuse and childhood symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dimensions of borderline personality improved significantly with treatment in both patient groups, and corresponded with response of bipolar symptoms. Six (43%) comorbid bipolar patients endorsed three or fewer criteria of borderline personality during treatment with lamotrigine. There was a trend for comorbid bipolar patients to require a second psychoactive medication in addition to lamotrigine during extended treatment. Limitations: Criteria for borderline personality and improvement were assessed retrospectively in an open manner. Conclusions: Dimensions of borderline personality disorder may respond to lamotrigine in comorbid bipolar patients; controlled studies appear warranted. Bipolar studies should assess and specify the number of patients with personality disorders in the trial.


Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Volume 26, Issue 5 , November 2003, Pages 1049-1054

The effect of donepezil on sedation and other symptoms in patients receiving opioids for cancer pain: a pilot study

Eduardo Bruera MD, Florian Strasser MD, Loren Shen RN, BSN, J. Lynn Palmer PhD, Jie Willey RN, MSN, Larry C. Driver MD and Allen W. Burton MD

            Opioid-induced sedation is a major complication in patients with cancer pain. This study assessed the effectiveness of donepezil in opioid-induced sedation and related symptoms in patients with cancer pain. Twenty-seven patients who were receiving strong opioids for pain and reported sedation were enrolled. Donepezil 5 mg was given every morning for 7 days. Changes between baseline and Day 7 in sedation, pain, fatigue and other symptoms were evaluated using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale. Fatigue was also measured using the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-Fatigue). Overall usefulness of donepezil was measured by the patient at the end of the study. In 20 evaluable patients, sedation, fatigue, anxiety, well-being, depression, anorexia and problems with sleep were significantly improved. Side effects included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and abdominal cramps, and anorexia. Overall, however, the treatment was well tolerated. Donepezil appears to improve sedation and fatigue in patients receiving opioids for cancer pain. Randomized controlled trials of this agent are justified.



Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology

Article in Press, Corrected Proof - Note to users

Persistence of cognitive effects after withdrawal from long-term benzodiazepine use: a meta-analysis

Melinda J. Barker, Kenneth M. Greenwood, Martin Jackson and Simon F. Crowe, 

            Despite the widespread prescribing of benzodiazepines, uncertainty still surrounds the potential for cognitive impairment following their long-term use. Furthermore, the degree of recovery that may take place after withdrawal or the level of residual impairment, if any, that is maintained in long-term benzodiazepine users is also unclear. The current paper employed meta-analytic techniques to address two questions: (1) Does the cognitive function of long-term benzodiazepine users improve following withdrawal? (2) Are previous long-term benzodiazepine users still impaired at follow-up compared to controls or normative data? Results of the meta-analyses indicated that long-term benzodiazepine users do show recovery of function in many areas after withdrawal. However, there remains a significant impairment in most areas of cognition in comparison to controls or normative data. The findings of this study highlight the problems associated with long-term benzodiazepine therapy and suggest that previous benzodiazepine users would be likely to experience the benefit of improved cognitive functioning after withdrawal. However, the reviewed data did not support full restitution of function, at least in the first 6 months following cessation and suggest that there may be some permanent deficits or deficits that take longer than 6 months to completely recover.



Psychological Medicine (2003), 33:1223-1237

Older adults and withdrawal from benzodiazepine hypnotics in general practice: effects on cognitive function, sleep, mood and quality of life

H. V. CURRAN a1c1, R. COLLINS a1, S. FLETCHER a1, S. C. Y. KEE a1, B. WOODS a1 and S. ILIFFE a1

            Background. Older adults are the main recipients of repeat prescriptions for benzodiazepine (BZD) hypnotics. BZDs can impair cognitive function and may not aid sleep when taken continuously for years. This study therefore aimed to determine if withdrawing from BZDs leads to changes in patients' cognitive function, quality of life, mood and sleep.

Method. One hundred and ninety-two long-term users of BZD hypnotics, aged [gt-or-equal, slanted]65 years, were identified in 25 general practices. One hundred and four who wished to withdraw were randomly allocated to one of two groups under double-blind, placebo controlled conditions: group A's BZD dose was tapered from week 1 of the trial; group B were given their usual dose for 12 weeks and then it was tapered. An additional group (C) of 35 patients who did not wish to withdraw from BZDs participated as 'continuers'. All patients were assessed at 0, 12 and 24 weeks and 50% were re-assessed at 52 weeks.

Results. Sixty per cent of patients had taken BZDs continuously for >10 years; 27% for >20 years. Of all patients beginning the trial, 80% had successfully withdrawn 6 months later. There was little difference between groups A and B, but these groups differed from continuers (C) in that the performance of the withdrawers on several cognitive/psychomotor tasks showed relative improvements at 24 or 52 weeks. Withdrawers and continuers did not differ in sleep or BZD withdrawal symptoms.  Conclusions. These results have clear implications for clinical practice. Withdrawal from BZDs produces some subtle cognitive advantages for older people, yet little in the way of withdrawal symptoms or emergent sleep difficulties. These findings also suggest that, taken long-term, BZDs do not aid sleep.



New Zealand Journal of Psychology, June 2003 v32 i1 p13(9)

Hormone replacement therapy and everyday memory in mid-aged New Zealand women. Christine Stephens; Yolande M. Hamilton; Nancy A. Pachana.

            While empirical research to date has generally supported positive effects of estrogen on verbal memory performance in women, the literature examining specific effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) on cognitive functioning in mid-life women is more equivocal. The Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test-Extended Version (RBMT-E), a measure of everyday memory functioning in adults within an average range of cognitive functioning, was administered to a sample of 104 New Zealand women aged 40 to 60 years who had self-selected to either use or not use HRT (53 HRT users and 51 non-users). Self-report measures of mood, stress, general health and menopausal symptoms were also administered. These variables, along with age and education level, were used in analyses of group differences on the everyday memory measures. Results showed significant differences between the groups for three sub-tests of the RBMT-E: 'Story Immediate', 'Story Delayed', and 'Message Delayed'. Women who use HRT scored higher on these subtests than those who do not use HRT. After calculation of a total profile score (adjusting for age and IQ), HRT users score higher than HRT non-users on the RBMT-E overall measure of Everyday Memory. These pilot results suggest that HRT use in this sample is related to enhanced verbal memory in everyday memory tasks and that the RBMT-E may be a useful tool for further work in this area of research.





Epilepsy Behav. 2003 Dec;4(6):674-9.

Antidepressive treatment in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and major depression: a prospective study with three different antidepressants.

Kuhn KU, Quednow BB, Thiel M, Falkai P, Maier W, Elger CE.

            Major depression (MD) is underdiagnosed and undertreated in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Side effects of some antidepressants, like increased risk of seizures and drug-drug interactions with anticonvulsants, contribute to undertreatment of MD in patients with TLE. We analyzed post hoc the data from 2 years of treatment of inpatients with MD and TLE. Seventy-five patients received standard treatment with citalopram, mirtazapine, or reboxetine, respectively, at recommended dosage. Examinations were done with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression at admission and after 4 and 20-30 weeks. Plasma levels of anticonvulsants were examined at admission and discharge. Seizures were documented. The antidepressive treatment was efficacious in all antidepressant groups. No case of serious adverse event or drug interaction occurred. There was no increase in frequency or severity of seizures. At endpoint the dropout rate for mirtazapine was significantly higher than that for reboxetine or citalopram. Reboxetine showed a trend to be more efficacious than citalopram but not mirtazapine at Week 4.





Volume 69, Issue 1 , January 2004, Pages 1-16

Identification of naturally occurring spirostenols preventing -amyloid-induced neurotoxicity

Laurent Lecanua, Wenguo Yao, Gary L. Teper, Zhi-Xing Yao, Janet Greeson and Vassilios Papadopoulos

            22R-Hydroxycholesterol is an intermediate in the steroid biosynthesis pathway shown to exhibit a neuroprotective property against -amyloid (1–42) (A) toxicity in rat PCl2 and human NT2N neuronal cells by binding and inactivating A. In search of potent 22R-hydroxycholesterol derivatives, we assessed the ability of a series of naturally occurring entities containing the 22R-hydroxycholesterol structure to protect PC12 cells against A-induced neurotoxicity, determined by measuring changes in membrane potential, mitochondrial diaphorase activity, ATP levels and trypan blue uptake. 22R-Hydroxycholesterol derivatives sharing a common spirost-5-en-3-ol or a furost-5-en-3-ol structure were tested. Although some of these compounds were neuroprotective against 0.1 M A, only three protected against the 1–10 M A-induced toxicity and, in contrast to 22R-hydroxycholesterol, all were devoid of steroidogenic activity. These entities shared a common structural feature, a long chain ester in position 3 and common stereochemistry. The neuroprotective property of these compounds was coupled to their ability to displace radiolabeled 22R-hydroxycholesterol from A, suggesting that the A-22R-hydroxycholesterol physicochemical interaction contributes to their beneficial effect. In addition, a 22R-hydroxycholesterol derivative inhibited the formation of neurotoxic amyloid-derived diffusible ligands. Computational docking simulations of 22R-hydroxycholesterol and its derivatives on A identified two binding sites. Chemical entities, as 22R-hydroxycholesterol, seem to bind preferentially only to one site. In contrast, the presence of the ester chain seems to confer the ability to bind to both sites on A, leading to neuroprotection against high concentrations of A. In conclusion, these results suggest that spirost-5-en-3-ol naturally occurring derivatives of 22R-hydroxycholesterol might offer a new approach for Alzheimer's disease therapy.



Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2000 Jul-Aug;63(1-2):1-9.          

Fatty acid metabolism in neurodevelopmental disorder: a new perspective on associations between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia and the autistic spectrum.

Richardson AJ, Ross MA.;  alex.richardson@physiol.ox.ac.uk

    There is increasing evidence that abnormalities of fatty acid and membrane phospholipid metabolism play a part in a wide range of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. This proposal is discussed here in relation to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia) and the autistic spectrum. These are among the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, with significant implications for society as well as for those directly affected. However, controversy still surrounds both the identification and management of these conditions, and while their aetiology is recognized as being complex and multifactorial, little progress has yet been made in elucidating predisposing factors at the biological level.An overview is provided here of the contents of this Special Issue, which contains a selection of reports from a unique multidisciplinary workshop involving both researchers and clinicians. Its purpose was to explore the possibility that ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism fall within a phospholipid spectrum of disorders. This proposal could explain the high degree of co-morbidity between these conditions, their aggregation within families and relation to other psychiatric disorders, and a range of associated features that are already well known at a clinical level. The existing evidence for fatty acid abnormalities in these disorders is summarized, and new approaches are outlined that have the potential to improve both the identification and the management of these and related neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions.