Effects of intensive lifestyle changes on the progression of mild cognitive impairment or early dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized, controlled clinical trial

Evidence links lifestyle factors with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We report the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine if intensive lifestyle changes may beneficially affect the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early dementia due to AD.

A 1:1 multicenter randomized controlled phase 2 trial, ages 45-90 with MCI or early dementia due to AD and a Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score of 18 or higher. The primary outcome measures were changes in cognition and function tests: Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC), Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog), Clinical Dementia Rating–Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), and Clinical Dementia Rating Global (CDR-G) after 20 weeks of an intensive multidomain lifestyle intervention compared to a wait-list usual care control group. ADAS-Cog, CDR-SB, and CDR-Global scales were compared using a Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon rank-sum test, and CGIC was compared using Fisher’s exact test. Secondary outcomes included plasma Aβ42/40 ratio, other biomarkers, and correlating lifestyle with the degree of change in these measures.

Fifty-one AD patients enrolled, mean age 73.5. No significant differences in any measures at baseline. Only two patients withdrew. All patients had plasma Aβ42/40 ratios <0.0672 at baseline, strongly supporting AD diagnosis. After 20 weeks, significant between-group differences in the CGIC (p= 0.001), CDR-SB (p= 0.032), and CDR Global (p= 0.037) tests and borderline significance in the ADAS-Cog test (p= 0.053). CGIC, CDR Global, and ADAS-Cog showed improvement in cognition and function and CDR-SB showed significantly less progression, compared to the control group which worsened in all four measures. Aβ42/40 ratio increased in the intervention group and decreased in the control group (p = 0.003). There was a significant correlation between lifestyle and both cognitive function and the plasma Aβ42/40 ratio. The microbiome improved only in the intervention group (p <0.0001).

Comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly improve cognition and function after 20 weeks in many patients with MCI or early dementia due to AD.



Published: 07 June 2024

For more information:

BMC Nature; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-024-01482-z