Effect of escitalopram dose and treatment duration on CSF Aβ levels in healthy older adults: A controlled clinical trial

Yvette I. Sheline, B. Joy Snider, Joanne C. Beer, Darsol Seok, Anne M. Fagan, Raymond F. Suckow, Jin Moo Lee, Teresa Waligorska, Magdalena Korecka, Irem Aselcioglu, John C. Morris, Leslie M. Shaw, John R. Cirrito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether treatment with escitalopram compared with placebo would lower CSF β-amyloid 42 (Aβ42) levels.RationaleSerotonin signaling suppresses Aβ42 in animal models of Alzheimer disease (AD) and young healthy humans. In a prospective study in older adults, we examined dose and treatment duration effects of escitalopram. Methods: Using lumbar punctures to sample CSF levels before and after a course of escitalopram treatment, cognitively normal older adults (n = 114) were assigned to placebo, 20 mg escitalopram × 2 weeks, 20 mg escitalopram × 8 weeks, or 30 mg escitalopram × 8 weeks; CSF sampled pretreatment and posttreatment and within-subject percent change in Aβ42 was used as the primary outcome in subsequent analyses. Results: An overall 9.4% greater reduction in CSF Aβ42 was found in escitalopram-treated compared with placebo-treated groups (p < 0.001, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.9%-14.2%, d = 0.81). Positive baseline Aβ status (CSF Aβ42 levels <250 pg/mL) was associated with smaller Aβ42 reduction (p = 0.006, 95% CI-16.7% to 0.5%, d =-0.52) compared with negative baseline amyloid status (CSF Aβ42 levels >250 pg/mL). Conclusions: Short-term longitudinal doses of escitalopram decreased CSF Aβ42 in cognitively normal older adults, the target group for AD prevention.Clinicaltrials.gov identifierNCT02161458.Classification of evidenceThis study provides Class II evidence that for cognitively normal older adults, escitalopram decreases CSF Aβ42.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2658-E2665
Issue number19
StatePublished - Nov 10 2020


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