Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 186
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825437

Kinematical analysis of the effects of donepezil hydrochloride on hand motor function in patients with Alzheimer's dementia*

R Mergl 1, V Henkel 1, J Gallinat 2, G Kotter 3, F Müller-Siecheneder 1, O Pogarell 1, G Juckel 2, A Schröter 1, K Bürger 1, H Hampel 1, R Bahra 4, B Emir 5, G Laux 6, HJ Möller 1, U Hegerl 1
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Wilhelm-von-Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany
  • 3Psychiatric Hospital, Bezirkskrankenhaus Augsburg, Germany
  • 4Pfizer Hellas, Athens, Greece
  • 5Pfizer New York, USA
  • 6Psychiatric Hospital Gabersee, Germany

There is conflicting evidence regarding effects of cholinesterase inhibitors on motor function (1,2). Therefore, a new computer-aided technique for hand-motor analysis (3) was applied in a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of donepezil on motor function in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

33 patients with probable AD (MMSE score: 15–26) were randomly allocated to treatment with donepezil, and placebo respectively. Using a digitizing tablet, we studied hand-motor performance in 18 patients receiving donepezil and 15 patients taking placebo. All subjects drew circles and gave different handwriting probes. Kinematical variables were calculated to quantify hand motion.

At the end of the treatment period, the donepezil group demonstrated a significant increase of handwriting automatisation, as compared to the placebo group (F(2,16)=4.00; p=.03*). No effect on velocity was found.

In summary, donepezil does not deteriorate hand-motor function, but even produces significant gains in handwriting automatisation of patients with AD.

* Supported by Pfizer.

1. Carcenac, D. et al. Presse-Med 29 (2000) 992–993;

2. Liepert J. et al. Motor cortex inhibition in Alzheimer's disease. Clin Neurophysiol 112 (2001) 1436–1441;

3. Mergl R. et al. J Neurosci Meth 90 (1999) 157–169