Memantine May Improve Cognition in Bipolar Disorder

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A drug that for years has been approved to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease may have a role in improving the cognitive deficits associated with bipolar disorder.

In a randomized, controlled, parallel-arm clinical trial of adjuvant memantine vs placebo in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder, memantine improved several cognitive domains and also demonstrated increased hippocampus neuronal viability on imaging scans of the brain.

The trial was presented in a rapid communication session here at the 10th International Conference on Bipolar Disorders (ICBD).

“Subjects with bipolar disorder have significant cognitive and functional deficits, even when they are euthymic,” lead author Dan Iosifescu, MD, director, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

“This is something that is not usually recognized, and it is important because it has a direct impact on the individual’s ability to function in real life, even when their symptoms of depression are somewhat controlled,” Dr. Iosifescu said.

Problems with attention, short-term memory, and executive functioning exist, but there is little understanding about what will be helpful to improve or compensate for such deficits, he added.

“For a very long time, these cognitive deficits were interpreted as having some residual symptoms, depression or mania, and that these needed to be better controlled, perhaps with increased doses of mood stabilizers. But as it turns out, this is not the right answer, and a lot of people continue to have cognitive problems,” he said.

by Fran Lowry, Medscape

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