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Alpha-Lipoic Acid as a New Treatment for Patients with Alzheimer's disease

In a study involving 43 patients with Alzheimer's disease (mild or moderate), supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid (600 mg/day) was found to be associated with dramatically lower progression of the disease over a period of 48 months, as compared to data from patients not receiving alpha-lipoic acid. The authors first cite a previous open-label study in which 9 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) receiving standard treatment with choline-esterase inhibitors were given 600 mg/day alpha-lipoic acid for a period of 12 months. The results of that study found stabilization of cognitive functions as assessed via 2 neuropsychological tests. In this study, the authors extended the analysis to include 43 patients over the course of 48 months. Results found that in patients with mild dementia (ADAScog <15), progression of the disease was extremely slow and in patients with moderate dementia (ADAScog: +1.2 points/year; MMSE: -0.6 points/year), progression of the disease was twice that rate. Compared with data from untreated patients or patients on choline-esterase inhibitors alone, the progression of the disease was dramatically lower among the subjects in this study taking alpha-lipoic acid. The authors conclude, "Despite the fact that this study was not double-blinded, placebo-controlled and randomized, our data suggest that treatment with alpha-lipoic acid might be a successful 'neuroprotective' therapy option for AD. However, a state-of-the-art phase II trial is needed urgently."