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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 May;185(4):524-8. Epub 2006 Mar 7.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol for nighttime agitation in severe dementia.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Charité Mitte (PUK), Berlin, Germany. sebastian.walther@gef.be.ch

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Nighttime agitation occurs frequently in patients with dementia and represents the number one burden on caregivers today. Current treatment options are few and limited due to substantial side effects.

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of the study was to measure the effect of the cannabinoid dronabinol on nocturnal motor activity.

METHODS:

In an open-label pilot study, six consecutive patients in the late stages of dementia and suffering from circadian and behavioral disturbances-five patients with Alzheimer's disease and one patient with vascular dementia-were treated with 2.5 mg dronabinol daily for 2 weeks. Motor activity was measured objectively using actigraphy.

RESULTS:

Compared to baseline, dronabinol led to a reduction in nocturnal motor activity (P=0.028). These findings were corroborated by improvements in Neuropsychiatric Inventory total score (P=0.027) as well as in subscores for agitation, aberrant motor, and nighttime behaviors (P<0.05). No side effects were observed.

CONCLUSIONS:

The study suggests that dronabinol was able to reduce nocturnal motor activity and agitation in severely demented patients. Thus, it appears that dronabinol may be a safe new treatment option for behavioral and circadian disturbances in dementia.

PMID:
16521031
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-006-0343-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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