Maurice W. Dysken, M.D., of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, and colleagues examined the effectiveness and safety of vitamin E, memantine, and the combination for treatment of functional decline in patients with mild to moderate AD who were taking an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (a chemical that increases the level and duration of action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine).
The trial included 613 patients at 14 Veterans Affairs medical centers. Participants received either 2,000 IU/day of vitamin E (n = 152), 20 mg/d of memantine (n = 155), the combination (n = 154), or placebo (n = 152). Change in functional decline was gauged via the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study/Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) Inventory score (range, 0-78).
Over the average follow-up time of 2.3 years, participants receiving vitamin E had slower functional decline than those receiving placebo, with the annual rate of decline in ADLs reduced by 19 percent.
In addition, caregiver time was reduced by about 2 hours per day in the vitamin E group.
The study has been published in the JAMA.