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A Randomized Controlled Trial of High-Dose Vitamin D2 Followed by Intranasal Insulin in Alzheimer's Disease


Poor vitamin D nutrition is linked with dementia, but vitamin D has not been tested in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Nasal insulin acutely improves cognition and vitamin D upregulates insulin receptor expression and enhances insulin action. In an RCT we examined the effect of high-dose vitamin D followed by nasal insulin on memory and disability in mild-moderate AD. 63 community-dwelling individuals aged > 60 were recruited; 32 with mild-moderate disease (Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] score 12–24) met entry criteria and were randomized. All took low-dose vitamin D (1000IU/day) throughout. After run-in (8 weeks), they were randomized to additional high-dose D/placebo for 8 weeks, followed immediately by randomization to nasal insulin (60 IU qid)/placebo for 48 h. Primary outcome measures were Alzheimer's disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) and Disability Assessment in Dementia (after high-dose D) and ADAS-cog and Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised Logical memory (WMS-R LM) for immediate and delayed recall (after nasal insulin). Baseline median (interquartile range, IR) age, MMSE, and ADAS-cog were 77.5 (69–80), 19.5 (17–22), and 25.5 (20–31), respectively. Median 25OHD increased from 49 to 60 nM (p < 0.01) after run-in and was 187 nM after high-dose vitamin D and 72 nM after placebo (p < 0.001). Neither cognition nor disability changed significantly after high-dose D. ADAS-cog improved by a median (IR) of 9 (1–11) with nasal insulin after placebo high-dose vitamin D (p = 0.02), but may represent regression to the mean as WLS-R LM did not change. We conclude that high-dose vitamin D provides no benefit for cognition or disability over low-dose vitamin D in mild-moderate AD.