The study, led by Dr. Raschetti at Italy's National Centre for Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion in Rome, concluded that cholinesterase inhibitors do not seem to delay the appearance of Alzheimer disease or other forms of dementia.
Three cholinesterase inhibitors - donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine - are currently approved for use in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer disease.
In the study, a systematic review of the data from clinical trials that had addressed the use of cholinesterase inhibitors with MCI patients was conducted.
In none of the six trials that the team examined did the use of the drugs significantly reduce the rate of progression from MCI to dementia.
Some experts are not convinced that the inhibitors are effective, but other experts and patient support groups have called for the drugs to be given to people with 'mild cognitive impairment (MCI)'.
MCI is used to describe the condition where people have memory problems that are more severe than those normally seen in others of their age, but otherwise have no symptoms of dementia. It is believed that people with MCI are at high risk of developing Alzheimer disease.