Researcher believe that ADHD medication could be used to treat Alzheimer
Researchers have found “good evidence” that medications now used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may potentially be effective in treating major features of Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinical studies using noradrenergic medications, such as antidepressants and treatments for high blood pressure and ADHD, are now required, according to the team lead by researchers at Imperial College London.
The neurotransmitter noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) is the target of noradrenergic medications. These neurons are part of a larger network that secretes the chemical. Attention, learning, memory, preparedness for action, and the inhibition of improper behaviours are only some of the cognitive functions that rely on this network.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms, and these symptoms are thought to be at least partially due to disturbance of the noradrenergic system, which suggests that this system might be an excellent target for medication treatment. Therefore, the study authors sought out clinical trials of noradrenergic medications including atomoxetine, methylphenidate, and guanfacine published between 1980 and 2021 that examined their ability to ameliorate cognitive and/or neuropsychiatric symptoms in persons with neurodegenerative illness.
Included were 19 studies with 1,811 participants each that looked at Alzheimer’s disease and moderate cognitive impairment. Ten of these studies, including over 1,300 participants, found a modest but statistically significant benefit from noradrenergic medications on cognitive performance as a whole.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, “repurposing of established noradrenergic drugs is most likely to offer effective treatment in general cognition and apathy,” the experts concluded. The results of their study were published in the journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry.
Dr. Rosa Sancho, chief of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, has remarked. There are now 143 Alzheimer’s medications undergoing clinical trials. While some of these drugs treat symptoms, the majority aim to address underlying molecular processes.
Evidence in the studies evaluated here varies in quality, and it is hard to directly compare outcomes from each study because of inconsistencies in methodologies utilised, but this well-conducted meta-analysis does show the potential of noradrenergic medications to treat various features of Alzheimer’s. We do not know how these medications could change a person’s daily life, and we do not know if the potential benefits would justify the potential drawbacks.
“While there are limits to the evidence presented in this research, it underscores the need for well-conducted clinical trials to evaluate whether medications now used to treat disorders like ADHD might also be safe and useful for persons with Alzheimer’s. Findings like these will make it easier for people to maintain meaningful relationships with those they care about for a longer period of time.