Article

Nicotine treatment of mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month double-blind pilot clinical trial.

Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, USA.
Neurology (Impact Factor: 8.3). 01/2012; 78(2):91-101. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31823efcbb
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To preliminarily assess the safety and efficacy of transdermal nicotine therapy on cognitive performance and clinical status in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Nonsmoking subjects with amnestic MCI were randomized to transdermal nicotine (15 mg per day or placebo) for 6 months. Primary outcome variables were attentional improvement assessed with Connors Continuous Performance Test (CPT), clinical improvement as measured by clinical global impression, and safety measures. Secondary measures included computerized cognitive testing and patient and observer ratings.
Of 74 subjects enrolled, 39 were randomized to nicotine and 35 to placebo. 67 subjects completed (34 nicotine, 33 placebo). The primary cognitive outcome measure (CPT) showed a significant nicotine-induced improvement. There was no statistically significant effect on clinician-rated global improvement. The secondary outcome measures showed significant nicotine-associated improvements in attention, memory, and psychomotor speed, and improvements were seen in patient/informant ratings of cognitive impairment. Safety and tolerability for transdermal nicotine were excellent.
This study demonstrated that transdermal nicotine can be safely administered to nonsmoking subjects with MCI over 6 months with improvement in primary and secondary cognitive measures of attention, memory, and mental processing, but not in ratings of clinician-rated global impression. We conclude that this initial study provides evidence for nicotine-induced cognitive improvement in subjects with MCI; however, whether these effects are clinically important will require larger studies. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that 6 months of transdermal nicotine (15 mg/day) improves cognitive test performance, but not clinical global impression of change, in nonsmoking subjects with amnestic MCI.

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Available from: Kenneth J Kellar, Jan 21, 2014
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Since cholinergic neurotransmission plays a major role in cognition, stimulation of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor may be a target for cognitive enhancement. While nicotine improves performance on several cognitive domains, results of individual studies vary. A possible explanation for these findings is that the effect of nicotine administration may be dependent on baseline cognitive function, where subjects with a suboptimal cognitive performance may benefit from nicotine, while subjects who already perform optimally may show a decline in performance after nicotinic stimulation. We conducted a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial, examining the effects of placebo, 1, and 2 mg of nicotine on cognition in young (n=16, age 18–30 years) and healthy elderly (n=16, age 60–75 years) subjects. We hypothesised that the elderly would benefit more from nicotine compared to young subjects, as normal ageing is associated with decreases in cognitive function. Attention, working memory, visual memory, information-processing speed, psychomotor function, stereotypy, and emotion recognition were assessed. Compared to the young volunteers, the elderly performed significantly worse on psychomotor function and emotion recognition in the placebo condition. Nicotine had no effect in the young volunteers and decreased performance on working memory and visual memory in the elderly. Contrary to our hypothesis, the effect of nicotine was dependent on baseline performance in both groups, with subjects with lower baseline performance benefiting from nicotine administration, while those with higher baseline performance performed worse after nicotine administration. This suggests that subjects with lower cognitive performance, irrespective of age, may benefit from nicotine.