Efficacy and safety of glycogen synthase kinase 3 inhibitors for Alzheimer's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Shinji Matsunaga, Hiroshige Fujishiro, Hajime Takechi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The efficacy and safety of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) inhibitors in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is unknown. Objective: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to test GSK-3 inhibitors on AD patients. Methods:We included RCTs of GSK-3 inhibitors in AD patients and subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), using cognitive function scores as a primary measure. Results: Five RCTs (three RCTs using lithium and two RCTs using tideglusib) with 568 patients were included. There was no significant difference in cognitive function scores between the GSK-3 inhibitors and placebo groups [standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.25, p = 0.11, I2 = 55%]. However, significant heterogeneity remained. A sensitivity analysis revealed that the lithium subgroup was more effective on cognitive function scores than placebo for AD and MCI (lithium subgroup: SMD= -0.41, p = 0.04; tideglusib subgroup: SMD= -0.02, p = 0.89). Moreover, a meta-regression analysis showed that the effect size of GSK-3 inhibitors on cognitive function scores was associated with study duration (coefficient, -0.0116). For safety outcomes, tideglusib was associated with a higher incidence of increased aspartate aminotransferase than placebo. There were no significant differences in other secondary outcomes between treatments. Conclusion: Our results suggested that GSK-3 inhibitors were ineffective in treating AD and MCI; however, several studies included in the present meta-analysis were small, and future studies using a larger sample size are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1039
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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