The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology

Research Article

The effect of 12-week open-label memantine treatment on cognitive function improvement in patients with alcohol-related dementia

Younghoon Cheona1, Jaewoo Parka2, Keun-Ho Joea3 and Dai-Jin Kima4 c1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, Incheon Chamsarang Hospital, Seojin Medical Research Institute, Incheon, Korea

a2 Department of Psychiatry, Holy Family Hospital, Catholic University, Kyoung-gi Province, Korea

a3 Department of Social Welfare with Addiction Rehabilitation, Eulji University, Kyoung-gi Province, Korea

a4 Department of Psychiatry, Holy Family Hospital, Catholic University, Kyoung-gi Province, Korea


There is compelling evidence that alcohol-induced neurotoxicity is related to glutamate excitotoxicity. It was hypothesized that the low-affinity NMDA receptor antagonist memantine would improve the cognitive function of patients with alcoholic dementia. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis and to evaluate the effect of memantine on the cognitive improvement of patients with alcohol-related dementia (ARD). The study was designed as a 12-wk open-label study investigating the efficacy of 20 mg memantine, a low-affinity NMDA receptor antagonist, as a treatment for cognitive and behavioural problems in 19 patients with probable ARD according to the criteria for ARD proposed by Oslin and colleagues. The CERAD-K (Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease – Korean version) and several clinical assessment scales were completed before and after the 12-wk memantine treatment period. Significant improvements in the mean scores from baseline to final assessment were observed in the Global Deterioration Scale (p<0.05), Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (p<0.01), Geriatric Quality of Life – Dementia scale (p<0.01) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (p<0.01) at the end of week 12. The CERAD-K subscales of word list recall (p<0.05), word list recognition (p<0.05), time orientation (p<0.01), drawing an interlocking pentagon (p<0.05), and the total MMSE-K (Mini Mental State Examination – Korean version) scores (p<0.01) of the patients all showed significant improvement following the memantine trial. In this open-label study, patients with ARD treated with 20 mg/d memantine for 12 wk showed improvement on global cognition, quality of life and behavioural symptoms. The result of this study suggests the possible usefulness of memantine for the treatment of ARD. As this was an open-label study, the possibility that participants improved cognitively on their own due to protracted abstinence from alcohol cannot be discounted.

(Received August 19 2007)

(Reviewed October 21 2007)

(Revised February 11 2008)

(Accepted February 13 2008)

(Online publication March 17 2008)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dai-Jin Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Holy Family Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 2 Sosa-Dong, Buchon-City, Kyoung-gi Province, 420-717, South Korea. Tel.: +82 32 340 2140 Fax: +82 32 340 2670 E-mail: