Objective: Cholinergic therapy is used in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and antiglutamatergic therapy in moderate-to-severe AD. Global scales, as commonly used in clinical trials, blur specifics of disease progression and drug effects. The objective was to assess combination therapy of rivastigmine plus memantine by specific neuropsychological tests in patients with mild-to-moderate AD. Methods: 12-week-short multicenter open-label pilot study. Ninety patients with mild-to-moderate AD already on stable medication with rivastigmine (3–6 mg b.i.d.) additionally received memantine for 12 weeks. Subscales of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog), the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and additional neuropsychological tests (e.g. span tasks, semantic fluency) were assessed. Results: The scores in the ADAS-cog memory subscale, the MMSE score, and digit span and semantic fluency significantly improved on combination therapy. Conclusion: Memory improvement was correlated with ADAS-cog memory score at baseline and inversely with age at onset of treatment. The data suggest that improvement on combination therapy results from an improvement of attention/executive function with secondary memory improvement, which will need to be confirmed in a subsequent double-blind study on a larger number of patients.

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