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Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 May;11(5):709-17. doi: 10.1586/ern.11.6.

Abhorring the vacuum: use of Alzheimer’s disease medications in frontotemporal dementia.

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  • 1Stanford Center for Memory Disorders, Stanford University Medical Center, 300 Pasteur Drive, Room A343, Stanford, CA 94305-5235, USA.


There is no dedicated therapy for frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In order to treat the often devastating behavioral disturbances that interfere with both normal social functioning and the ability of caregivers to provide needed support, off-label medication usage is frequent. In addition to antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, which afford some benefits, US FDA-approved treatments for Alzheimer's disease are often used, including both cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Here, we review the various clinical manifestations of FTD, a general approach to treatment and the goals of any potential therapies. We review all of the existing literature on the use of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine in FTD. While cholinesterase inhibitors do not currently have a place in FTD treatment, memantine may be helpful, although the results of two placebo-controlled trials with this agent are not yet available. Finally, we discuss our view that such approaches will probably become supplanted by rational, molecularly-based therapies currently in development.

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