The beneficial effect of cholinesterase inhibitors on patients suffering from Parkinson's disease and dementia

E. A. Werber, J. M. Rabey

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89 Scopus citations


Patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD), often develop dementia (PDD). Their brain histology reveals Alzheimer's disease (AD) like changes and decreased cholin-acetyl transferase (ChAT) activity, in addition to typical PD changes. This cholinergic deficiency has been related to the degree of mental decline. As centrally acting cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) provide cognitive and non-cognitive improvement for AD patients, the same therapeutic effect was hypothesized for PDD patients as well. The goal of this study was to assess the effect of ChEIs on both the cognitive and motor state of PDD patients. An open study was conducted. Eleven consecutive PDD patients (M/F 6/5 mean age 75y) were found eligible for inclusion. They were treated for 26 weeks with tacrine (7 patients) and donepezil (4 patients) as add-on to their regular anti PD drugs. Cognitive assessment was performed at baseline and endpoint by Mini-Mental-State-Examination (MMSE) and Alzheimer's-Disease-Assessment-Scale (ADAS-cog). Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) was performed to evaluate active daily living (ADL). Motor evaluation was performed using Short Parkinson Evaluation Scale (SPES) at baseline and end-point. Statistical analysis used Student's paired t-test, ANOVA with repeated measures and Pearson correlation coefficient. ChEIs treated PDD patients showed improvement in their cognitive state. Mean ADAS-cog improved significantly by 3.2 points (p < 0.012). Mean MMSE and GDS improved non-significantly by 1.2 and 0.2 points respectively. There was no change in motor function as evident by mean SPES scores, 16.5 at baseline and endpoint. Five individuals actually demonstrated motor improvement under ChEIs. We conclude that ChEIs have a beneficial effect on the cognitive state of PDD patients without aggravating motor function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1325
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Cognitive
  • Dementia
  • Motor
  • Parkinson's


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