DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE
Anti-inflammatory Drugs Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative
disorder of the brain which is the most common cause of dementia. It
is characterized by abnormal judgment, orientation, memory, emotions,
and thinking, most often affecting the elderly. There is no known
cure. There is no known prevention.
Researchers affiliated with the University of British Columbia
published summary data in the journal Neurology
(1996;47:425-432) which indicate that steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs) may have a protective effect against Alzheimer's's disease.
Patrick L. McGeer, M.D., Ph.D. and associates statistically evaluated
17 previous preliminary studies which, when pooled, suggested a
significantly reduced risk of developing and progression of Alzheimer's's disease for persons taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
The authors, therefore, concluded that the anti-inflammatory drugs may
delay the onset as well as slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. They also emphasized that further prospective clinical
trials will be needed to confirm the implications of their findings.
The Medical Editors of MedicineNet agree that more work is
necessary in this area before NSAIDs or steroids should be
recommended for Alzheimer's disease. However, the results of this
study should be acknowledged as a real first step toward the
prevention of this devastating illness.
Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004
In a follow-up study (Neuropharmacology 1999 Jul;38(7):1017-25)
researchers looking at nerve cell changes in the laboratory found
that NSAIDs may have effects against the nerve toxic changes that
could lead to Alzheimer's disease, while steroids had no such
protective effect. More work using patient studies is still needed.