HealthDay News — For patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), levetiracetam is well tolerated and improves performance on certain cognitive tasks among those with epileptiform activity, according to a study published online September 27 in JAMA Neurology.

Keith Vossel, MD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined the ability of levetiracetam to improve cognition in AD in a study involving 34 adults with AD. Group A received placebo twice daily for 4 weeks, followed by a 4-week washout period, then 4 weeks of twice-daily oral levetiracetam; group B received treatment using the reverse sequence.

Thirteen of the participants had epileptiform activity. The researchers found that levetiracetam treatment did not change the National Institutes of Health Executive Abilities: Measures and Instruments for Neurobehavioral Evaluation and Research composite scores vs placebo (mean difference, 0.07 points) or secondary measures. Levetiracetam treatment improved performance on the Stroop interference naming subscale (net improvement, 7.4 points) and the virtual route learning test (t = 2.36) among participants with epileptiform activity. No treatment discontinuations due to adverse events were reported.

“These findings could lead to future personalized approaches to AD, in which patients with the epileptic variant of AD will receive different treatments than those without the epileptic variant,” the authors write. “The implications are substantial when considering that an estimated 60% or more of patients with AD experience seizures and subclinical epileptiform activity.”


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Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures levetiracetam.

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