Background: The clinical benefit of cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) remains inconclusive. Objective: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy/safety of ChEIs on subjects with MCI. Methods: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of ChEIs in subjects with MCI, using cognitive function scores as a primary outcome measure. Results: Fourteen RCTs (six using donepezil, four using galantamine, and four using rivastigmine) with 5,278 subjects were included. We found no significant difference in cognitive function scores between the ChEIs and placebo groups [standardized mean difference (SMD)=-0.06, p=0.38, I2=76% ]. However, in the secondary outcomes, ChEIs were associated with a lower incidence of progression to dementia compared with placebo (risk ratio=0.76, the number needed to treat=20). For safety outcomes, ChEIs were associated with a lower prevalence of fall than placebo. On the other hand, compared with placebo, ChEIs were associated with a higher incidence of discontinuation due to all causes, discontinuation due to adverse events, at least one adverse event, abnormal dreams, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, insomnia, loose stools, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Conclusions: Although ChEIs have a slight efficacy in the treatment of MCI, there are many safety issues. Therefore, ChEIs are difficult to recommend for MCI. However, the efficacy and safety of ChEIs on MCI with a biomarker-based diagnosis is unclear. Further RCTs are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of ChEIs when used for individual neuropathological classifications of MCI.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health