The ASCOMALVA trial: Association between the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil and the cholinergic precursor choline alphoscerate in Alzheimer's disease with cerebrovascular injury: Interim results

Published:September 10, 2012DOI:



      Cholinesterase inhibitors (ChE-Is) are among the drugs more largely used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD), but beneficial long-term effects of these compounds on the cognitive, functional, and behavioural symptoms of the disease are small and not always apparent in practice. Preclinical investigations have suggested that association between ChE-Is and the cholinergic precursor choline alphoscerate enhances cholinergic neurotransmission more effectively than single compounds alone. The ongoing clinical trial on the “Effect of association between a ChE-I and choline alphoscerate on cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease associated with cerebrovascular injury” (ASCOMALVA) was designed to assess if association of the ChE-I donepezil with choline alphoscerate has a more favourable clinical profile than monotherapy with donepezil alone.


      ASCOMALVA is a double-blind multicentre trial that has completed the first 12 months of observation of 91 patients of the 210 planned. Patients were aged between 56 and 91 years (mean 75±10 years) and were included in the protocol with a MMSE score between 15 and 24. Patients with AD diagnosed according to the DSM IV criteria suffer from ischemic brain damage documented by neuroimaging (MRI and CT scan), with a score2 in at least one subfield of the New Rating Scale for Age-Related White Matter Changes (ARWMC). Patients were randomly allotted to an active treatment group (donepezil+choline alphoscerate) or to a reference treatment group (donepezil+placebo) and were examined after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of treatment.


      Cognitive functions, patient's daily activities and behavioural symptoms were assessed by the Mini‐Mental State Evaluation (MMSE), Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale Cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog), Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADL), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), of severity and of caregiver distress measures (NPI-F and NPI-D). Patients of the reference group (donepezil+placebo) showed along the course of the 12 months of observation, a slight time-dependent worsening of MMSE, ADAS-cog, IADL and NPI-D scores and no changes in the BADL and NPI-F scores. Donepezil plus choline alphoscerate improved compared to donepezil alone the different items analysed except the BADL.


      The first results of the ASCOMALVA trial suggest that association of choline alphoscerate to the standard treatment with a ChE-I may represent an option to prolong beneficial effects of cholinergic therapies in AD with concomitant ischemic cerebrovascular injury.


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