BACKGROUND The new reversible MAOl moclobemide was compared with placebo in the treatment of elderly patients with DSM-III diagnosis of dementia and/or of major depression.
METHOD Six hundred and ninety-four elderly patients with symptoms of depression and cognitive decline entered an international, multi-centre, double blind trial in which they were randomly allocated to treatment with either moclobemide 400 mg daily or placebo for 42 days. Five hundred and eleven patients met DSM-III criteria for dementia and were also depressed (DEM+D); 183 did not meet DSM-III criteria for dementia but met the criteria for DSM-III major depressive episode and also suffered from cognitive decline (MDE+CD).
RESULTS Analysis of the 17 and 24-item Hamilton Depression Scale scores showed that moclobemide, compared with placebo, produced significantly greater improvement in both the demented and depressed groups (P = 0.001 both diagnostic groups). There was an improvement in cognitive function as measured by the SCAG Factor 1 in moclobemide treated patients (P = 0.005 DEM+D; P = 0.02 MDE+CD). There was no evidence of decline in cognitive function as the result of treatment. Clinical global assessment of tolerance was 'excellent' and 'good' in 88% of the moclobemide and in 92% of the placebo treated patients. The proportion of patients discontinuing treatment prematurely was similar in both treatment groups. There were no significant differences in side-effects between treatment groups. There were no significant changes in vital signs, ECG or laboratory findings in either treatment group. There were no dietary restrictions and no report of any tyramine reaction.
CONCLUSIONS Moclobemide was shown to be a safe, well tolerated and effective antidepressant, which did not cause impairment of cognitive function in elderly patients with a DSM-III diagnosis of dementia and/or DSM-III major depression.