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Alzheimer's Disease | Treatment of Psychosis and Agitation in Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

Clinically, many patients with AD show no response or minimal response to antipsychotics for symptoms of agitation/aggression or psychosis, or they have intolerable side effects on these medications. Antipsychotics have a wide range of side effects, including the risk of increased mortality (60-70% higher rate of death on antipsychotic compared to placebo) that led to an FDA black box warning for patients with dementia; a more recent review and meta-analysis showed a 54% increased risk of mortality. In addition, some patients show only partial response to antipsychotics and symptoms persist. For these reasons, the investigators need to study alternative treatment strategies. Currently, there is no FDA-approved medication for the treatment of psychosis or agitation in AD. The investigators innovative project will examine the efficacy and side effects of low dose lithium treatment of agitation/aggression with or without psychosis in 80 patients with AD in a randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled, 12-week trial (essentially a Phase II trial). The results will determine the potential for a large-scale clinical trial (Phase III) to establish the utility of lithium in these patients.

Who is eligible to participate?

Inclusion Criteria: 1. Male and female adults. 2. Diagnosis of possible or probable AD by standard NIA criteria (McKahnn et al, 1984; McKhann et all, 2011) 3. Folstein MMSE 5-26 out of 30 4. Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) agitation/aggression subscale score > 4. On each subscale (frequency X severity), a score higher than 4 represents moderate to severe symptoms. 5. Female patients need to be post-menopausal 6. Availability of informant; patients without an informant will not be recruited. Patients who lack capacity must have a surrogate. Exclusion Criteria: 1. Medical contraindication to lithium treatment or prior history of intolerability to lithium treatment. Contraindications to lithium in this study include: resting tremor causing functional impairment, history of falls in the last month, untreated thyroid disease or any abnormal thyroid function test (T3, T4, or TSH), creatinine level greater than 1.5 mg/100ml or a glomerular filtration rate less than 44ml/min/ 1.73m2; blood pressure > 150/90 mm Hg; heart rate < 50 bpm; unstable cardiac disease based on history, physical examination, and ECG. 2. Medications, in combination with lithium, known to have adverse renal effects, including therapeutic or higher doses of diuretics, i.e. hydrochlorothiazide greater than 25mg daily or furosemide greater than 10mg daily. Whenever feasible, patients receiving concomitant antidepressants or antipsychotics will be washed off these medications for at least 24 hours before starting lithium. Patients who do not wish to discontinue antipsychotics or antidepressants, typically because of family member/caregiver objection, will be allowed to enter the trial provided there is no contraindication to concomitant lithium use with that specific psychotropic medication. During the trial, patients will be permitted to receive lorazepam as needed up to 1 mg/day for anxiety/insomnia, and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, e.g., zolpidem. 3. Current clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, other psychosis, or bipolar 1 disorder (DSM-IV TR criteria). 4. Current or recent (past 6 months) alcohol or substance dependence (DSM-IV TR criteria). 5. Current major depression or suicidality as assessed by the study psychiatrist. 6. Suicidal behavior or dangerous behavior with serious safety risk or risk of physical harm to self or others. 7. Parkinson's disease, Lewy body disease, multiple sclerosis, CNS infection, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, other major neurological disorder. 8. Clinical stroke with residual neurological deficits. MRI findings of cerebrovascular disease (smallinfarcts, lacunes, periventricular disease) in the absence of clinical stroke with residual neurological deficits will not lead to exclusion. 9. Acute, severe, unstable medical illness. For cancer, patients with active illness or metastases will be excluded, but past history of successfully treated cancer will not lead to exclusion. 10. QTc interval > 460 ms at the time of baseline EKG is an exclusion criterion for treatment. 11. Hypernatremia as determined by serum sodium level > 150 meq/L.

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Alzheimer's Disease

Psychosis

Agitation

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Drug:Lithium

Drug:Placebo

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

Lithium Treatment GroupThe patient will be started on lithium 150mg/day, with subsequent dose titration to 300mg/day at the 2-week visit, 450mg/day at the 4-week visit, and 600mg/day (maximum daily dose) if tolerated and based on real lithium blood level. Blood will be drawn at each study visit. This upward dose titration will occur only if clinically indicated (absence of response at lower doses without intolerable side effects). Patients who develop side effects, e.g., tremor, falls, will have their dose reduced.

Placebo GroupThe patient will be started on placebo 150mg/day, with subsequent dose titration to 300mg/day at the 2-week visit, 450mg/day at the 4-week visit, and 600mg/day (maximum daily dose) if tolerated and based on sham lithium blood level. Blood will be drawn for sham lithium levels at weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12. This upward dose titration will occur only if clinically indicated (absence of response at lower doses without intolerable side effects). Patients who develop side effects, e.g., tremor, falls, will have their dose reduced.

Study Status

Recruiting

Start Date: June 2014

Completed Date: April 2019

Phase: Phase 2

Type: Interventional

Design:

Primary Outcome: Change in Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) Score

Secondary Outcome: Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Global

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: DP Devanand, MD

Lead Sponsor: New York State Psychiatric Institute

Collaborator: National Institute on Aging (NIA)

More information:https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02129348

Devanand DP, Marder K, Michaels KS, Sackeim HA, Bell K, Sullivan MA, Cooper TB, Pelton GH, Mayeux R. A randomized, placebo-controlled dose-comparison trial of haloperidol for psychosis and disruptive behaviors in Alzheimer's disease. Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Nov;155(11):1512-20.

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