There is little evidence to guide pharmacological treatment in adults with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.
To investigate the effect of cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine on survival and function in adults with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.
This was a naturalistic longitudinal follow-up of a clinical cohort of 310 people with Down syndrome diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease collected from specialist community services in England.
Median survival time (5.59 years, 95% CI 4.67–6.67) for those on medication (n = 145, mainly cholinesterase inhibitors) was significantly greater than for those not prescribed medication (n = 165) (3.45 years, 95% CI 2.91–4.13, log-rank test P<0.001). Sequential assessments demonstrated an early effect in maintaining cognitive function.
Cholinesterase inhibitors appear to offer benefit for people with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease that is comparable with sporadic Alzheimer's disease; a trial to test the effect of earlier treatment (prodromal Alzheimer's disease) in Down syndrome may be indicated.
Declaration of interest
A.S. has undertaken consulting for Ono Pharmaceuticals, outside the submitted work. Z.W. has received a consultancy fee and grant from GE Healthcare, outside the submitted work.